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By the Editors of Time-Life Books 



The Elusive Visitors 


Essay Fear and Hope on Film 



Into flic Saucer Era 


Essay Kidnappers from Space 



A Time of Close Encounters 


Essay Project Blue Book 



A Deepening Controversy 



The Enduring Enigma 


Essay A Universe of Possibilities 




Picture Credits 







The Elusive Visitors 

he December night was chilly and damp, and the two middle-aged women 
turned up the car heater as they drove along the deserted Texas road. It was 
soon after Christmas, 1980. The women and the small boy with them had 
traveled to a town about fifteen miles from Houston for dinner; now, as they 
made their way home, the child noticed something strange in the sky. A 
blazing light was gliding toward them over the pines. 

As it approached, the light resolved itself into a brilliant, diamond- 
shaped object. Flames shot out from its underside. In her fifty-one years, Betty 
Cash, the driver, had never seen anything like it. Nor had Vickie Landrum, age 
fifty- seven, who pulled her seven-year-old grandson, Colby, close to her as the 
object slowed and then hovered over the roadway as if preparing to land. 

Betty Cash stopped the car, and the three of them watched, dumb struck. 
The bizarre craft continued to hover about sixty-five yards away, emitting a 
beeping noise. Curiosity overcoming their fear, they stepped out of the car for 
a better view, although the terrified boy soon persuaded his grandmother to 
return to the vehicle, intense heat pulsed from the object, forcing Betty Cash, 
as she came back to the car, to wrap her hand in her coat before grasping the 
searing metal of the door handle. 

Eventually the craft began moving up and away. As it did so, an even 
stranger thing happened. A squadron of helicopters -more than twenty in all, 
many of them big, double-rotor machines like those used for carrying military 
cargo— appeared and attempted, in a welter of noise, to surround it. When the 
object sped away, accompanied by the swarming helicopters, the three tried 
to follow in the car. From a different angle, the phantom ship became cigar- 
shaped, a bright, oblong cylinder of light. Then it vanished, along with the 
helicopters, in the distance. 

Betty Cash dropped her passengers off at their home and returned to 
hers. By this time she was feeling ill. Over the next few hours, all three 
witnesses developed sunburnlike blisters, nausea, and diarrhea. Betty Cash's 
symptoms were the worst, presumably because she had exposed herself the 
longest to the object's radiant heat. Sick and frightened, she sought medical 
treatment and was hospitalized for two weeks as a burn victim. But several 

days passed before the doctors heard, from Colby, about the 
incident that preceded the group's injuries. 

Investigators studied the case for severalyears without 
coming close to identifying the fiery craft or even tracking 
down the more mundane helicopters. Although other wit- 
nesses in the area reported that they too had seen a dazzling 
light and double-rotor helicopters that night — identifying the 
larger choppers from photographs as CH-47 Chinooks— local 
military bases all denied having had such aircraft in the region 
on that December night. The U.S. government disclaimed 
ownership of the glowing apparition. Betty Cash, Vickie Lan- 
drum, and her grandson were left with only their lingering 
injuries and an unfinished story. 

In its elusiveness, the so-called Cash-Landrum incident— just 
one of many such events recorded each year— is typical of 
reports of mysterious objects flashing across the sky and, 
sometimes, touching down 
on the surface of the earth. 
Indeed, the very term used 
to describe such phenome- 
na, unidentified flying ob- 
jects, or UFOs— coined by a 
U.S. Air Force officer in 
1951— shows how little is 
known about these sight- 
ings. David Jacobs, an 
American expert in the 
field, defines a UFO as "the 
report of an extraordinary 
airborne or landed object, 
or related experience, that 
remains anomalous after 
proper scientific analysis." 
The term is clearly not 
equivalent to the popular 
"flying saucer," although it 
can, in theory, include 
spaceships piloted by alien 

creatures. Using this definition, which encompasses any 
number of disparate sightings, few people would dispute the 
existence of UFOs. 

Disputes do arise, however, when investigators seek to 
determine exactly what a given UFO was. On those rare oc- 
casions when physical evidence is at hand— when the object 
has been retrieved, for instance, and shown to be part of a 
disintegrating satellite— the mystery can be considered 
solved. But most sightings of unidentified flying objectsyield 
no tangible clues, only eyewitness accounts. 

In these cases, two complicating factors come into play. 
The first is witness reliability. Even when those claiming to 
have seen UFOs are regarded as credible, it may be difficult 
or impossible to reconstruct exactly what it was that they 
saw. The objective, physical act of seeing can be vastly dif- 
ferent from the subjective act of interpreting what is seen. The 
viewer forms judgments even in the act of observation; these 

1 judgments then become 
further altered over time as 
they pass through the dis- 
torting filter of memory. 
The second complication in 
UFO cases is the bias of the 
investigator. Hard-core 
skeptics and ardent believ- 
ers will inevitably reach dif- 
ferent conclusions about 
an ambiguous case— and, 
indeed, many UFO cases 
are ambiguous. Evenso, an 
astonishingly high number 
of Americans believe in 
UFOs. And, if pressed, 
many will admit to having 
seen them. (Fear of ridicule 
seems to prevent most wit- 
nesses from rushing out to 
report their sightings.) A 
1987 Gallup poll showed 

-. ■ 


An intense, burning tight pours from the UFO that appeared over a lonely Texas high* 


that 49 percent of Americans aware of UFOs were con- 
vinced of their existence, 30 percent thought they were 
imaginary, and 21 percent were unsure. An earlier survey 
indicated that as many as one adult American in eleven— a 
projected thirteen million people— had actually seen a UFO. 

Skeptics frequently seek to portray UFO believers as 
fringe personalities and occultists who are unable to accept 
modern society. But surveys show that believers are, in fact, 
no more interested in the occult and no less satisfied with life 
than anyone else is. The one characteristic that UFO wit- 
nesses have in common, according to one study, is that they 
are more inclined to accept the notion of extraterrestrial life. 

A sizable number of people today envision UFOs 
exactly as the vehicles are portrayed in most science-fiction 
films and books— as spacecraft carrying extraterrestrial be- 
ings from technologically advanced worlds. This is, of course, 
a relatively recent conception that has been stimulated, per- 
haps, by our expanding knowledge of outer space as well as 
by the pervasive images of fiction and motion pictures. But 
strange sights appeared in the skies long before space flight— 
or manned flight of any kind— was possible. And in each 
century these visions took on identities that tell much about 
the world view of those who saw them. In antiquity, for ex- 
ample, people discerned angelic messengers; in the nine- 
teenth century, they saw dirigibles. Today, awed observers 
look skyward and see glowing envoys from other worlds. 

nd yet, a common theme seems to link 
such sightings from earliest history 
through today. Gravity-bound hu- 
mans, gazing at the endless sky, seem 
always to have felt that there is more to 
existence than can be seen on the 
earth's surface, that life might come in more shapes than 
those we know, that we are not alone among the myriad stars 
sparkling in the boundless cosmos. The record of mysterious 
aerial sightings reaches back to the dawn of written history. 
Seen in the light of modern knowledge and theories, how- 
ever, accounts of such incidents are far from conclusive. 
Clearly, if the modern and presumably scientific world has 

been unable to establish the nature of recent reports of un- 
identified flying objects, then conjectures that are based on 
ancient records can hardly be more conclusive. Even so, an- 
cient and medieval chronicles of UFO-like sightings are fas- 
cinating and suggestive, and they often sound surprisingly 
like today's descriptions. 

The oldest accounts, say UFO researchers— or ufolo- 
gists, as they are often called— come to us as legends. For 
instance, a venerable Chinese tale speaks of a far-off "land 
of flying carts" inhabited by one-armed, three-eyed people 
riding winged chariots with gilded wheels. The Drona Parva, 
a Sanskrit text, describes aerial dogfights among gods pilot- 
ing flying machines called vimanas. During the battles, ac- 
cording to one translation, a "blazing missile possessed of 
the radiance of smokeless fire was discharged." Such reports 
are not confined to Eastern lore, however. Some students of 
UFO history, such as it is, claim that the most impressive UFO 
stories are found in the Bible— called by one writer "the 
greatest flying saucer book of them all." 

The Old Testament prophet Elijah, for example, ascend- 
ed into the sky on a "chariot of fire" caught in a whirlwind. 
Jacob's vision, recorded in Genesis, of angels climbing a lad- 
der into heaven has also been interpreted as a UFO event. The 
Book of Exodus also provides intriguing possibilities for 
UFOs. The account of Moses leading the Israelites out of 
Egypt and across Sinai to the Promised Land states: "The Lord 
went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along 
the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that 
they might travel by day and by night." According to biblical 
scholar and Presbyterian minister Barry H. Downing, the so- 
called pillars of cloud and fire could have been a UFO, whose 
exhaust may also have parted the Red Sea. Downing 's other 
spacecraft candidates include angels carrying messages from 
God and the cloud on which Christ ascended into heaven. 

The most vivid and elaborate ofthe Bible's possible UFO 
sightings comes from the prophet Ezekiel, a priest in one of 
Babylon's captive Jewish settlements. When he was thirty 
years old, in about 593 b.c, he had an extraordinary vision: 
"As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, 


Testimony oHhe Ancients 

An early Colombian 
artifact resembles a 
delta-winged aircraft. 

"The past teemed with unknown gods 
who visited the primeval earth in 
manned spaceships." Or so says au- 
thor Erich von Daniken in his 1968 
book on the existence of extraterres- 
trials titled Chariots of the Gods? This 
best seller popularized the irrepressible 
writer's belief that visitors from space 
mated with human ancestors to create 
a race with superior intelligence. 

To support his ancient-astronaut 
theory, von Daniken and others sub- 
scribing to his views examined the 
monuments, art, and artifacts of vari- 
ous cultures. Basing his conclusion on 
research that was admittedly spotty 
and sometimes misinterpreted, von 
Daniken subsequently claimed that 
some of these artif acts represented 
spaceships and cosmic travelers who 
descended to earth in primitive times. 
The writer also decided that 

Such colossal works as the stone 
on Easter Island and the pyra- 
mids of Egypt could not have been 
crafted without the aid of technolog- 
ically advanced visitors from the 
stars. Scientists have thoroughly 
debunked these notions, but 
still intriguing are those exam- 
ples of early art whose meanings have 
remained undeciphered over the years. 
Von Daniken and his followers con- 
der these objects not only proof of 
his theories but a legacy from human- 
kind's alien fore- 
bears. Three 
samples are 

and a great cloud, with brightness round about it, and fire 
flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it 
were gleaming bronze. And from the midst of it came the 
likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appear- 
ance: they had the form of men, but each had four faces, and 
each of them had four wings." 

Ezekiel's description, which appears at the opening of 
the Old Testament book that bears his name, continues at 
some length. The living creatures moved about together, and 
from their center came "something 
that looked like burning coals of fire, 
like torches moving to and fro." The 
creatures themselves, it seems, were 
part of a larger structure comprising 
four sets of sparkling rings, each set a 
wheel within a wheel. Above the fig- 
ures, Ezekiel saw a kind of burning 
godhead, "like glowing metal, as if 
full of fire," cloaked in a brilliant light. 

Ezekiel interpreted this sight as 
"the likeness of the glory of the Lord." 
But some UFO enthusiasts have 
seized on the vision as describing the 
arrival of an extraterrestrial space- 
ship. When the controversial Swiss 
author Erich von Daniken— who has 
been accused of everything from slip- 
shod research to outright fraud— pro- 
posed this idea in his book Chariots of 
the Gods?, published in 1968, he 
aroused at least one reader to action. 

Josef F. Blumrich, an engineer 

with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 
scoffed at von Daniken's idea of spaceship design. A native 
Austrian involved in the design of aircraft and rockets since 
1934, Blumrich had played a role in building NASA's huge 
Saturn V rocket, which took astronauts to the moon. If any- 
body knew about spacecraft design, he did. 

Blumrich was convinced that Ezekiel's wheel would fall 
apart under a rocket engineer's rigorous examination. But to 
his utter surprise, he found that the description could be 
adapted into a practical design for a landing module launched 
from a mother spaceship (in the prophet's vision, the glowing 
metal godhead) . Blumrich worked out the design in detail and 
published an account of it in a 1 973 book titled The Spaceships 
of Ezekiel. "Seldom," he wrote, "has a total defeat been so 
rewarding, so fascinating, and so delightful!" According to 
Blumrich, the four "living creatures" could have been four 
sets of landing gear, each with a wheel for maneuvering over 

/s^r/fr/ fL/p t t>t f ft- 'its 

This engraving shows the prophet 
Ezekiel's UFO Ukt vision: four winged creatures and 
their four wheeled vehicle. 

the ground. The "wings" would have been helicopter blad s 
used for final positioning prior to touchdown, while a rocket 
engine in the craft's conical body supplied main propulsion. 

The notion that Ezekiel saw a spacecraft was by no 
means universally accepted, of course. Harvard Universi y 
astronomer Donald H. Menzel countered that Ezekiel was 
taken in by an optical illusion. Menzel argued that the prophet 
has given us "singularly accurate descriptions, albeit in sym- 
bolic and picturesque language," of a rare and complex me- 
teorological phenomenon known as 
a parhelion. Formed by sunlight re- 
fracting through ice crystals, a full 
parhelion may consist of two concen- 
tric rings surrounding the sun and 
crossed with spokelike vertical and 
horizontal streaks of light. Two or 
even four of these sun dogs or mock 
suns may also appear on either side of 
and above and below the real sun. 
Finally, an inverted arc of light may sit 
on top of the outer ring. According to 
Menzel, with a little imagination the 
effect is that of a huge, shimmering 
chariot moving with the sun. 

Menzel also offered natural 
explanations for other alleged bibli- 
cal sightings of UFOs. Jacob perhaps 
saw not a ladder but the aurora bo- 
realis— a display of gases glowing in 
the upper atmosphere. And the sea 
that parted for Moses might have 

been a vast mirage, a mirrorlike layer 

of hot air above the desert floor. Such a mirage, said 
Menzel, will seem to part, then close back on itself as a person 
moves through it. 

Those who reject legends or the Bible as valid UFO 
sources can still find possibilities in historical records. Chron- 
iclers of Alexander the Great, for instance, report that his 
army was harassed by a pair of flying objects in 329 b.c. And 
according to some imaginative ufologists, the French cleric 
Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons, was writing of possible space- 
ship visitations when he observed in the ninth century that 
members of his flock maintained their region was plagued by 
"aerial sailors" who arrived on ships in the clouds and dep- 
redated orchards and wheat fields. Agobard dismissed be- 
lievers in such tales as "folk blinded by deep stupidity" but 
related an incident illustrating just how strongly the belief 
was held. Once, he wrote, he saw four people— three men 
and a woman— displayed in chains; they had been accused of 




being passengers who had fallen from the intrusive aerial 
vessels. So angered were the assembled citizens of Lyons 
that they stoned the four to death as punishment for their 
supposed misdeeds. Apparently, though, the accusers later 
recanted their charges. A somewhat similar tale has it that in 
the thirteenth century an aerial craft snagged its anchor on a 
pile of stones in an English city; a crewman who slid down the 
rope to free the anchor was surrounded by a crowd of curious 
earthlings and asphyxiated. 

Other alleged sightings in the distant past include a 
spectacular event over the German city of Nuremberg in April 
1 56 1 , when spheres and disks appeared in the sky and en- 
gaged in an aerial ballet. Residents of Basel, Switzerland, 
witnessed a similar display five years later. According to con- 
temporary accounts, the sky was suddenly dotted with large 
black spheres that were zooming toward the sun or maneu- 
vering about each other. Then, as quickly and mysteriously as 


they had appeared, they turned a fiery red and vanished. The 
great British astronomer Edmond Halley of comet fame also 
spied a series of unexplained aerial objects in March of the 
year 1716. One of them lit up the sky for more than two hours 
and was so brilliant that Halley could read a printed text by 
its light. As described by the astronomer, the glow finally 
began to wane and then sud- 
denly flared up again "as if new 
fuel [had] been cast on a fire." 

These early accounts are 
suggestive at best; whether they 
describe true UFOs is a matter of 

Josef F. Blumrich (right) set out in 
1 968 to debunk the notion that 
Ezekiel's wheel was an alien space- 
ship. But the NASA engineer de- 
signed a viable craft (below) from 
the prophet's description. 



interpretation. Researchers have a hard enough time simply 
verifying the authenticity of documents containing such tales. 
Inevitably, this has led some enterprising enthusiasts to man- 
ufacture their own "ancient" texts. The false story then 
spreads when one writer accepts it as genuine and uses it in 
a book, which becomes a source for others. 
^^^^ n a U.S. government study of unidentified 

^^((j^^^ flying objects published in 1 969, author Sa- 

^^^jj^^ muel Rosenberg examines three such spu- 
rious cases. The first is a purported ancient 
Indian chronicle from the so-called Book of 
Dyzan, containing a remarkable account of what sounds like 
a failed attempt by extraterrestrials to colonize the earth. 
According to the story, alien colonists arrived in a metal craft 
that circled the earth several times before landing to establish 
a settlement. Dissension in the group eventually led to civil 
war, with one side launching "a great shining lance that rode 
on a beam of light" and exploded in a huge fireball on the 
enemy's city. The Dyzan tale, which has been quoted at 
length in a number of pro- UFO books, would be an outstand- 
ing candidate for a UFO landing. Unfortunately, when Ro- 
senberg traced the story to its source, he found that it 
stemmed wholly from the imagination of trie nineteenth- 
century occultist Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who 
included it in her monumental tome The Secret Doctrine, 
which was published in 1886. 

Rosenberg's second case involves an account that was 
supposedly translated from a crumbling papyrus among the 
Vatican's Egyptian holdings. The tale, said to have come from 
the collection of a certain Professor Tulli and to have been 
translated by a Prince de Rachelwitz, tells of a fleet of uni- 
dentified flying objects that descended on Egypt 3,500 years 
ago during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III. However, Ro- 
senberg's attempts to trace this papyrus in 1 968 proved fruit- 
less. The Vatican said it had no record of it; Tulli was dead and 
his papers were dispersed. Further, the Vatican reported that 
neither Tulli nor Rachelwitz was an expert; the Vatican's 
current Egyptologist suggested that Tulli had been deceived 
by a bogus papyrus. Rosenberg asserts that a close reading of 

the UFO account shows that it almost certainly dates from 
recent times and is derived from the biblical story of Ezekiel. 

Rosenberg had similar results when he traced the ori- 
gins of an alleged sighting at Byland Abbey in Yorkshire, 
England. The story, which is presented in at least six books 
about UFOs, describes the extraordinary appearance, in the 
year a.d. 1290, of a UFO that coasted over the abbey as the 
monks were sitting down to dinner. Supposedly, a medieval 
chronicler noted that "when Henry the Abbot was about to 
say grace, John, one of the brethren, came in and said there 
was a great portent outside. Then they all went out and LO! 
a large round silver thing like a disk flew slowly over them, and 
excited the greatest terror." Again, the incident is a wonder- 
fully vivid account that does not stand up to examination. 
Rosenberg's sleuthing uncovered the story's much more re- 
cent origins: It was concocted in the early 1 950s by a pair of 
high-school pranksters who fobbed it off on the public in a 
letter published in the London Times. 

Rosenberg does not dismiss the possibility of UFOs vis- 
iting earth in times long past but offers the Dyzan, Tulli, and 
Byland Abbey accounts as cautionary. "My conclusion: all 
accounts of 'UFO-like sightings handed down through the 
ages' are doubtful— until verified." 

To be sure, well-attested reports of strange aerial ob- 
jects continued into the scientific and industrial age. By the 
1800s such sightings had become increasingly well docu 
mented in newspapers and the scientific press. The English 
Journal of Natural History and Philosophy and Chemistry, for 
example, published the experience of an observer at Hatton 
Garden, London, in 1 809. The gentleman in question was 
astonished by the sight of "many meteors" darting around a 
black cloud during a thunderstorm. "They were like dazzling 
specks of light, dancing and traipsing thro' the clouds. One 
increased in size till it became of the brilliancy and magnitude 
of Venus, on a clear evening. But I could see no body in the 
light. It moved with great rapidity." Astronomers peering 
through telescopes frequently noted mysterious shapes pass- 
ing in front of the sun and moon. Ocean sightings were also 
common. In May 1879, a passenger aboard a ship in the 


Hovering in the background of this Renais- 
sance painting of the Madonna and Child is 
an object radiating beams of light. To some, 
the mysterious item represents a UFO. 

The Search for Clues 
in Biblical Art 

For some UFO investigators, the mo- 
mentous events set out in the Bible 
hold meanings beyond the scope of 
any religion that has yet been orga- 
nized. These researchers view the bib- 
lical chronicles as a unique written 
history spanning a millennium that 
was fraught with paranormal activity, 
including UFO appearances. 

Examined from this point of view, 
the Bible yields dozens of examples of 

unidentified flying objects. Almost any 
unusual vision in she heavens can be 
seen as an alien visitation. Some ufo- 
logists, for example, believe the star of 
Bethlehem— which led the three wise 
men to the infant Jesus— was a flying 
saucer. And one New York minister 
concluded that God could have been 
an alien endeavoring to guide humans 
on earth during crises. 

Artistic interpretations of such 
events have appeared throughout the 
centuries. As if to support the biblical 
ufologists' claims, some include 
strange, unidentifiable objects in the 
skies. Three examples of these works 
are shown here. 

In this scene from a medieval tapestry portraying the life of the Virgin 
Mary, one mysterious element has captured the attention of some 
UFO investigators: the black domed object hovering above the skyline. 


Persian Gulf watched in amazement as two giant, luminous 
wheels spun slowly toward the ocean; a similar phenomenon 
was reported to have taken place in the same area about a 
year later. In June 1 88 1 , two sons of the Prince of Wales— one 
of them the future King George V— were steaming off the 
coast of Australia when they and others aboard saw some- 
thing like an airborne, fully illuminated ship. Some accounts 
have it that the mystery vessel was the ghostly Flying Dutch- 
man; others maintain that it was a UFO. 

Perhaps the most remarkable observations occurred in 
the United States toward the end of the nineteenth century. 
Between November 1896 and April 1897, the country reeled 
under an extraordinary series of sightings that started in the 
state of California and spread eastward. The wavelike nature 
of the phenomenon— beginning with a few observations, 
swelling to a peak, and then eventually subsiding— was to 
become a regular characteristic of modem UFO sightings. 

It all began on the stormy 

afternoon of November 17, 
1896, in Sacramento, the Cal- 
ifornia capital, some fifty miles 
northeast of San Francisco. A 
trolleyman named Charles 
Lusk was standing outside his 
house and looking up at the 
roiling sky when to his im- 
mense surprise he saw a 
bright light cruising perhaps 
1,000 feet overhead. A faint 
shape seemed to be moving 
along right behind it. Others, 
at the nearby capitol building, 
glimpsed the "wandering ap- 
parition," as one newspaper 
called it, and climbed up to the 
top of the rotunda for a better 
view. Another resident 
claimed to have seen not only 
the object -which was de- 

A contemporary painting records dramatic haloes 
seen over Stockholm, Sweden, in April 1535— possibly caused 
by light refracting through ice crystals. 

scribed as cigar-shaped, with an underslung gondola and a 
pair of side wheels like an old riverboat-but also two men 
aboard it, peddling furiously on something like a bicycle 
frame; one of them was overheard saying to the other, "We 
will get to San Francisco about half past twelve." Later that 
evening, in fact, a similar apparition was seen gliding ma- 
jestically over San Francisco, flashing a searchlight on the city 
and sending the local seals scurrying off their rocks into the 
protective waters of the Golden Gate. 

Over the next two weeks, West Coast newspapers 
played the story of the mysterious flying machine f or all it was 
worth. Where it might pop up next was anyone's guess. On 
November 24, witnesses reported it over San Jose as well as 
750 miles north at Tacoma, Washington. The next day it was 
spied over Oakland and Los Angeles, 400 miles to the south. 
The press was inclined to be skeptical, however. A headline 
in William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner dis- 
missed the sightings as "prob- 
ably due to liquor," while the 
rival Chronicle suggested 
caustically that what people 
were actually seeing was the 
ghost of Diogenes, the figure 
from Greek legend who wan- 
dered the world with lamp in 
hand, seeking an honest man. 

Most people, however, 
seemed to accept the reality of 
the enigmatic vehicle and be- 
lieved it to be an airship 
launched by an anonymous 
inventor. And considering the 
temper of the times, this 
seemed a reasonable enough 
assumption. The United States 
was experiencing the first 
bloom of a great technological 
era, when anything seemed 
possible. The electric light, the 


Engraved onto a French token minted in 
the 1680s is an odd, disk-shaped flying object. 

Some u/ologists suggest the design 
may commemorate a daytime UFO sighting. 

telephone, phonograph, and other recent 
inventions were transf orming American lif e. 

Although it would be another seven 
years before the Wright brothers' flight at Kitty 
Hawk, the inevitability of passenger-carrying 
airships was widely accepted. A dirigible-like balloon 
(with a rigid steel frame and driven by an engine) had flown 
over Paris as early as 1 852. American inventor Solomon An- 
drews went aloft in a similar craft near New York City in 1 865, 
and four years later in San Francisco an expatriate English- 
man named Fred Marriot piloted a cigar-shaped balloon with 
two wings and steam-driven propellers. By the 1 890s, Amer- 
icans and Europeans were conducting well-publicized ex- 
periments with manned gliders, and the U.S. Patent Office 
was flooded with designs for flying machines of both the 
dirigible and the heavier-than-air types. 

Technology's shining promise was also reflected in the 
new literary genre of science fiction, whose master, the 
Frenchman Jules Veme, enjoyed an enormous following in 
America. Verne's Roburthe Conqueror, published in the Unit- 
ed States in 1887, concerned a globe-girdling airship called 
the Albatross. A popular and prolific American writer named 
Luis Philip Senareus (his total output has been estimated at 
40 million words) produced three stories in the 1 880s built 
around airships. America's first full-time science-fiction writ- 
er was an alcoholic Calif omian named Robert Duncan Milne; 
his stories,which often featured airships, were frequently 
published in San Francisco papers in the years before the 
1 896-97 wave. Other ideas taking root in the public imagi- 
nation included antigravity machines and the possible hab- 
itation of Mars by an advanced civilization— a proposal made 
by none other than Percival Lowell, the country's leading 
astronomer. In short, by 1896 the American imagination 
could comfortably accommodate not only airships but even 
spaceships crossing the interplanetary void. 

In this climate of invention and creativity, the airship 
theory that unfolded in that winter of 1 896 did not seem too 
farfetched. As the sightings accumulated, a lawyer known 
forever after as Airship Collins announced that he represent- 

ed a wealthy but unnamed inventor who 
had assembled the craft in the hills north of 
Jv Sacramento. A rival attorney soon stepped 
835^. < y / up to claim that he was the agent for the un- 
known inventor, who had actually built two air- 
ships—one in California, the other in New Jersey. The 
Spanish-American War was brewing, and the rival lawyer 
asserted that his client planned to use the marvelous flying 
machine to bomb Havana. 

After a month as front-page news, the airship story 
began to subside on the West Coast. The wave was far from 
spent, however. In February the craft surfaced again, this 
time in the Midwest. The first sightings came out of Nebraska 
near the towns of Hastings and Invale, where witnesses de- 
scribed the vessel as having "a conical shape, perhaps thirty 
to forty f eet in length," with a bright headlight and six smaller 
running lights, wings, and a large fan-shaped rudder. Skep- 
tics had laughed off the first accounts as the inebriated visions 
of saloon patrons. The Omaha Bee, however, took the story 
seriously and stressed that later sightings came from up- 
standing church folk. 

Over the next two months, the phantom ship appeared 
over other towns and cities in Nebraska, and in Iowa, Kansas, 
Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee as well. This epidemic of 
reports included several cases of reputed face-to-face meet- 
ings with a vessel's occupants. A Chattanooga resident told 
of finding an airship on the spur of a mountain outside the 
city; a certain Professor Charles Davidson and his crew were 
making repairs to the craft and told of having sailed east from 
Sacramento aboard it a month before. A citizen of Harrisburg, 
Arkansas, also met the crew, which was made up of a wom- 
an, two young men, and a patriarchal inventor-captain with 
piercing black eyes and whiskers down to his belly. The old 
man, he said, had discovered the secret of antigravity and 
planned to display the machine in public after flying it to Mars. 

In Missouri, one man swore he had met a "short two- 
legged creature" who used hypnosis to hold him prisoner 
aboard the aircraft for three weeks. The St. Louis Post- 
Dispatch titillated its readers with the tale of Mr. W. H. 


A comet streaking across the nighttime 
sky can be mistaken for a UFO. The com- 
et West (below) was photographed pass- 
ing over New Hampshire in 1 9 76. 

A Range of 
Natural Deceptions 

Excited witnesses of unidentified flying 
objects have often found— sometimes 
to their dismay— that they were fooled 
by Mother Nature. Celestial bodies 
such as comets, meteors, and planets 
are easily misidentified, and the earth's 
constantly changing atmosphere can 
produce many strange distortions of 
those objects. For example, stars or 
planets may become magnified, 
change color, or seem to reappear 
from below the horizon. These and 
other natural occurrences, such as rare 
cloud formations and mysterious types 
of lightning, have all been mistaken at 
one time or another for UFOs. Several 
examples of the deceptive phenomena 
are shown here. 

An aurora visible in the night 
skies over Hawaii (left) resulted 
when the I 962 detonation of 
the high-altitude nuclear bomb 
Starfish released charged parti- 
cles into the atmosphere. 

This formation of lenticular, or 
lens-shaped, clouds (below) re- 
sembled a fleet of flying saucers 
as it drifted over Santos, Brazil- 
Rarely seen, these clouds some 
times generate UFO reports. 

High -attitude objects cast a shadow -a Bracken specter— on clouds. 

Bait lightning - luminous, electrically charged spheres that pulsate 
through the air -can accompany violent atmospheric activity. 

Sun pillars, dense columns of light-reflecting ice crys- 
tals, appear as streaks above or below a low sun. 

Light- refracting ic<e crystals can prefect a mock sun, or sun dog (above, right}, at the same height as die original 


Mysterious airships, reported over the United States in late 1 896 and 
early 1897, prompted the country's first major wave of UFO sightings. 
Newspapers avidly followed the story, publishing illustrations of the 
cigar-shaped objects drifting over (from left) Sacramento, Oakland, 
and San Francisco, California, and a Chicago suburb. 

Hopkins, who came upon a gleaming metal craft and its 
Olympian crew: a bearded man "of noble proportions and 
majestic countenance" and a beautiful naked woman 
("dressed in nature's garb," as the paper discreetly putit) with 
golden hair flowing to her waist. 

Reports continued to pour in. In April, a newspaper 
vendor in the Chicago suburb of Rogers Park took what may 
have been history's first UFO photograph, which one news- 
paper used as the basis for a pen-and-ink sketch. Alas, the 
photograph itself— which rival papers examined and pro- 
nounced a fake— soon disappeared forever. 

In the wake of the mystery airship, people began to find 
letters reputedly dropped by its crew. One was discovered 
tied to a reed near Astoria, Illinois, and addressed to none 
other than inventor Thomas A. Edison. The Wizard of Menlo 
Park dismissed the message, written to him in code and 
signed "C. L. Harris, electrician Airship N.3," as "a pure fake" 
without bothering to decipher it. He went on to declare that 
although airships might be possible some day, they would 

never be more than toys. Another letter was found attached 
to an iron rod stuck in the ground at a Wisconsin farm, date- 
lined "Aboard the airship Pegasus." The missive claimed that 
"application for the patents f or a parallel plane airship will be 
filed simultaneously at Washington and the European capi- 
tals. It is propelled by steam and is lighted by electricity, and 
has a carrying power of 1 ,000 pounds." 

Sightings petered out toward the end of April. As one of 
the oddest episodes in American history came to an end, 
people were just as mystified about its true nature asthey had 
been at the beginning. For some, however, the airship stories 
were clearly more enjoyable as fiction than as fact. 

Despite their growing technological sophistication, 
tum-of-the-century Americans remained a simple people in 
many ways. The United States was, to a considerable extent, 
still a rural society, close to its frontier roots and possessing 
a knee-slapping sense of humor as broad as the prairie sky. 
The tall tale— told with an absolutely straight face— was a 
staple in American humor, and preposterous stories had 
long proliferated, not only around the cracker barrels of 
country stores but also in the columns of both small-town 
and big-city newspapers. As early as 1844, for example, poet 
and free-lance journalist Edgar Allan Poe had penned for the 


Baltimore Sun a so-called factual account of a transatlantic 
balloon flight— a feat not really accomplished until 1978. 

So if a few people caught up in the airship craziness felt 
like stretching the truth, they were just part of a venerable 
tradition. Apparently nobody practiced this time-honored art 
better than did one Alexander Hamilton, a farmer who told a 
reporter of a colossal 300-foot-long airship descending on his 
spread near the town of Yates Center, Kansas, on April 23, 
1897. When Hamilton and two others rushed to investigate, 
he said, they noticed inside the craft's glass compartment "six 
of the strangest beings I ever saw. They were jabbering to- 
gether but we could not understand a word they said." Then 
the ship took off, carrying with it one of Hamilton's heifers. It 
hovered over the farm for a time before disappearing into the 
sky. The next day, a f armer some distance away recovered the 
hide, legs, and head of the purloined cow. Hamilton's amaz- 
ing tale concludes: 

"After identifying the hide by my brand, I went home. 
But every time I would drop to sleep I would see the cursed 
thing, with its big lights and hideous people. I don't know 
whether they are devils or angels or what; but we all saw 
them, and my whole family saw the ship, and I don't want any 
more to do with them." 

It was a sensational story, even by the standards of 
airship accounts. Moreover, Hamilton was a rock-solid citi- 
zen and f ormer state senator whose tale was accompanied by 
an affidavit, signed by twelve community leaders, attesting to 
his reputation for veracity. More than sixty years later, some 
ufologists would rediscover the story and tout it as testimony 
that could not easily be explained away. Subsequent detec- 
tive work by UFO researcher Jerome Clark, however, deflated 
these fantastic events. Clark's investigation showed conclu- 
sively that the entire episode was a tongue-in-cheek hoax 
perpetrated by Hamilton and the signers of the affidavit— all 
members of the local liars club. 

Tall tales and hoaxes could hardly explain the extraordinary 
event that occurred in Russia about a decade later. On the 
morning of June 30, 1908, something huge and terrifying 
hurtled out of the sky and exploded over a region called 
Tunguska in remote Siberia. One witness reported that the 
sky was split in two by the tremendous blast. Another saw an 
elongated flaming object trailing dust. The cataclysm shat- 
tered windowpanes, shook the ground, and propelled a sear- 
ing wind across the desolate landscape, felling trees as if they 
were matchsticks and igniting 1 ,200 square miles of forest. 


Scientists would later estimate the power of the blast to have 
been equivalent to that of a twenty-megaton nuclear bomb. 

The Tunguska explosion has remained a mystery, 
fueling a number of competing explanations. Among the 
more imaginative are the antimatter and the black hole col- 
lision theories: If antimatter— which is made up of particles 
with abnormally reversed electrical charges— was to leak 
from an alternate universe into ours, it would explode spec- 
tacularly upon contact with normal matter. Similarly, even 
the tiniest black hole (an invisible, ultra-dense celestial phe- 
nomenon) would wreak havoc if it collided with the earth. 
The existence of miniature black holes has not been proven, 
however. All black holes known to astronomers are so mas- 
sive that they would most assuredly destroy the earth. 

Not surprisingly, some students of the explosion sug- 
gest that it resulted from a UFO disintegrating in the atmo- 
sphere. Several Soviet scientists claim to have found unusu- 
ally high radioactivity in the Tunguska soil and assert that it 
came from the spaceship's nuclear engine. Their calculations 
of the object's trajectory also led them to believe that the 
visitor decelerated upon entering the atmosphere. Some 
ufologists are convinced therefore that the occupants of a 
crashing spaceship deliberately changed course to avoid hit- 
ting an inhabited area. 

Other scientists have found no evidence for either the 
radioactivity or changed trajectory, however. The weight of 
evidence now points to a collision between the earth and a 
comet, or perhaps an asteroid, as the explanation for the 


Tunguska blast. Calculations show the object, whatever it 
might have been, was probably 100 yards across, weighed a 
million tons, and plunged at a speed of 70,000 miles per hour 
to a flaming death by atmospheric friction. 

One year after the Tunguska incident, the world expe- 
rienced its second major wave of UFO sightings. This time the 
scope of the phenomenon was international, as reports came 
in from Europe, North America, South Africa, Japan, New 
Zealand, and other parts of the globe between the years 1 909 
and 1 9 1 3. It began in southwestern England as witnesses told 
of seeing a large oblong object with a powerful light cruising 
high above them at night. 

Included among the testimony was at least one en- 
counter with the occupants of a mystery craft. An elderly 
Welshman hiking one day in the mountains said he came 
upon a huge cigar-shaped machine on the ground next to two 
crewmen. Dressed in fur caps and coats, the men "jabbered 
furiously to each other in a strange lingo," according to the 
startled witness, then took off in their noisy machine at his 
approach. Speculation centered on possible secret test flights 
of the new zeppelins, a type of large dirigible the Germans 
were known to be developing. Similar sightings occurred 
again in England in early 1913 and were also attributed to the 
Germans, who just eighteen months later would be at war 
with Great Britain. However, no documentation has ever 
been found to prove the zeppelin hypothesis. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, Americans 
had their own UFO experiences to ponder. In December 
1909, a Worcester, Massachusetts, policeman walking his 
predawn beat was puzzled by a fiery light moving overhead. 
During the next several days, the same light— or something 
very much like it— was seen by residents of two other towns, 
and on December 23 it made an appearance over Boston. 
Some sharp-eyed New Englanders swore that a dark shape, 
like that of an airship, accompanied the light. To the delight 
of children who assumed that the craft must be Santa Claus, 
the UFO visited Boston again on Christmas Eve, and then 
reappeared the next day more than a hundred miles to the 
southwest over New Haven, Connecticut. 

Suspicion focused on a Worcester manufacturer of 
heating equipment named Wallace E. Tillinghast. Early in 
December, Tillinghast had proclaimed to the press that he 
had built a new type of airplane and had test-flown it on at 
least twenty occasions, all at night. Fear of someone stealing 
his idea, he said, prevented him from showing his marvelous 
machine to the public. If his claims were true, such an in- 
vention would be the logical candidate for New England's 
mysterious visitor. However, the inscrutable Tillinghast kept 
coy about any responsibility he may have had for the bizarre 
events. Later investigations indicated he may actually have 
built a flying machine, but if so it almost certainly never left 
the ground. The entire episode remains another of the many 
enigmas in the history of UFO sightings. 
^^^^ f the 1 909 reports seem like a replay of the 

^^^gj^^^ California airship flap, the next series of 

sightings appears to be a vision of a jet- 
powered future. In February 1913, citizens 
of both Canada and the United States wit- 
nessed a squadron of moving lights arcing through the night 
sky from Saskatchewan, across Minnesota, Michigan, New 
York, and New England, and out over the Atlantic Ocean. A 
sound like that of distant thunder accompanied the lights, 
which seemed to fly in precise formation. Scientists who 
looked into the sightings hypothesized that the observers had 
seen a group of meteors plummeting through the earth's 
atmosphere. Later, however, UFO enthusiasts would main- 
tain that the baffling lights could have been interstellar space- 
craft; meteors, they observed, do not usually fly in formation. 
The case remains unresolved. 

One other event from this era took place before what 
may have been the largest crowd ever to witness a UFO— if 
indeed it was a UFO. In 1917, on the rainy afternoon of Oc- 
tober 13, a crowd of 50,000 people in Fatima, Portugal, 
watched in amazement as the clouds parted to reveal a huge 
silver disk spinning like a windmill and dancing about the sky. 
The object gave off heat, and some of the witnesses would 
later state that their rain-soaked clothes had dried in minutes 
from exposure to it. After plunging toward the earth, the disk 


Unexplained fireballs, dubbed "foo fighters," buzzed both Allied and Axis aircraft late in World War II. 

climbed back into the sky and disappeared into the sun. 

This extraordinary spectacle fulfilled the prophecy of 
three young peasant girls who claimed to have spoken to the 
Virgin Mary. She told them, they said, that on October 13 she 
would reveal herself, "so that everyone would have to be- 
lieve." The Catholic Church declared it a miracle, but ufol- 
ogists point to the striking similarities between this event and 
many reports of alleged UFOs. 

Such reports were sporadic for the quarter century fol- 
lowing the occurrence at Fatima. By the 1940s, Europe, Asia, 
and North America were caught up in World War II, a conflict 
that, more than any previous war, fueled the engine of tech- 
nological advancement. Out of World War II came radar, jet 
airplanes, supersonic rockets, and the apocalyptic might of 
the atomic bomb. All were developed in secret. It is not sur- 
prising, then, that whenever something strange was seen in 
the sky, the witnesses' first impulse was to attribute it to some 
new weapon in the enemy's arsenal. 

This was exactly the response American commanders 
had to bewildering reports flooding in from air force pilots in 
the autumn of 1944. The sightings began over the Rhine 
River; eerie, luminous balls, the pilots said, were appearing 

out of nowhere and chasing their planes. The fiery disks, 
some red, some orange or white, seemed to be toying with the 
aircraft, diving and darting through the sky in madcap ma- 
neuvers, occasionally blinking on and off like Christmas-tree 
lights. As many as ten might track a plane. The airmen called 
them "foo fighters," a name derived from a nonsense line in 
the popular "Smokey Stover" comic strip: "Where there's 
foo, there's fire." (The cartoonist apparently took the word 
from the French feu, meaning fire.) The Germans were down 
to their last, desperate defense by this time, and the bizarre 
foo fighters— or "kraut balls," as they were also known- 
seemed right in character with the presumed cleverness of 
German technology. But the notion that these fireballs might 
be secret weapons soon faded, since none had ever harmed 
an Allied plane. Also, as Americans learned after the war, 
German pilots saw them, too -and assumed they were Allied 
secret weapons. 

Bomber crews over the Pacific and pilots who were 
flying in the Korean and Vietnam wars would also report 
having seen foo-like phenomena, leading some ufologists to 
suggest that the glowing objects were extraterrestrials who 
had come to spy on earthly military operations. Skeptics, on 


the other hand, provided more down-to- 
earth explanations, such as static electricity, 
ball lightning, or reflections from ice crystals 
that had formed in cockpit- window imper- 
fections. The mystery has yet to be solved. 

By 1946 the world war had ended but 
the cold war was just beginning. Contribut- 
ing to the mounting suspicion between the 
United States and the Soviet Union was a 
wave of mysterious sightings over the Baltic 
Sea and Scandinavia. The peculiar activity 
started in late May, when residents of north- 
ern Sweden began to see strange rocketlike 
shapes careening overhead. These curious 
reports came from remote areas and were 
largely ignored until a few weeks later on 
June 9, when the citizens of Helsinki, Fin- 
land, were flabbergasted by an object that 
cut across the pale night sky, trailing smoke 
and leaving a phantom afterglow in its wake. 

As additional sightings came in from 
other parts of northern Europe, reports of 
the "ghost rockets" and "spook bombs" 
dominated the newspapers. Accounts of the 
unidentified objects' shape and behavior 
varied. While most witnesses described 
what they had seen as missiles, others be- 
lieved they saw gray spheres or fireballs or 
even pinwheel-like affairs spraying out 
sparks. To some they looked like cigars or 
footballs, and one witness described them as 
"seagulls without heads." They flew 
straight, some said; no, claimed others— 
they climbed, dived, even rolled and re- 
versed direction. Some flashed across the 
sky like meteors. Others hardly moved. 

Eventually, well over 1,000 sightings 
would be reported over seven months in 
Sweden alone; similar reports flowed in 

This object, photographed in 
1946, was just one of more than 

1,000 "ghost rockets" seen 
in Scandinavian skies that year. 

from as far afield as Portugal, North Africa, 
Italy, Greece, and India. In northern Europe, 
suspicions turned immediately to the Sovi- 
ets, who just a year before had captured the 
German V-2 rocket base at Peenemiinde on 
the Baltic Sea. The V-2, which terrorized 
London and other Allied cities in the closing 
year of the war, was an awesome supersonic 
weapon— essentially the first ballistic mis- 
sile. Was it possible that the Russians had 
developed something similar and were test- 
firing it over the Baltic? The Kremlin denied 
this was the case, but the possibility made 
officials in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark 
skittish enough to impose a news blackout 
on all UFO sightings. Swedish military forces 
went on the alert, and the United States sent 
the retired air force general Jimmy Doolittle 
to assist them in their investigation. Ulti- 
mately, the Swedish Def ense Ministry would 
determine that 80 percent of the sightings 
could be explained as conventional aircraft 
or such natural events as meteors, stars, 
planets, and clouds. Nevertheless, at least 
200 of the reported sightings, the Swedes 
said, "cannot be the phenomena of nature or 
products of the imagination." 

It would not be the last time that in- 
vestigators would reach a "tantalizing in- 
conclusiveness"— the felicitous phrase used 
in a United States government study twenty 
years later— as they probed the mystery of 
unidentified flying objects. At the same time, 
the scientific leaps resulting from World War 
II made the notion of extraterrestrial visitors, 
once the fancy of science-fiction writers, 
seem more realistic. As investigators would 
soon find out, foo fighters and ghost rockets 
were just the beginning. 

Fear and Hope on Film 

Unidentified (lying objects, with 
their connotation of alien visitors, strike some resonant chords in the 
human psyche -resonant and essentially contradictory. We wel- 
come the notion of meeting with other intelligent beings We picture 
them as benign, helpful, even messianic, and trust that their coming 
heralds the beginning of a great adventure. At the same time, how- 
ever, we sometimes fear them The unknown is intrinsically fright- 
ening, after all, and the idea of alien intruders can evoke xenophobia 
in its purest form. What if they are not so friendly? Instead of prom- 
ising a beginning, they might bode an end. 

Popular culture reflects such ambivalence Consider the movies 
In the science- fiction classic War of the Worlds, for instance, humans 
cower while Martians in crescent-shaped ships rigged with cobra- 
like death rays deal destruction. But in Close Encounters of the Third 
Kind, the killer craft give way to a great, spangled carousel bearing 
beneficent little beings who commune musically with the onlookers 
and hint at wondrous adventures in store. The charming EX, with 
his affectionate nature, is juxtaposed against the meanness of some 
humans, calling into question just who the real aliens are In It Came 
from Outer Space, the visitors are both good and bad They land and 
begin usurping human bodies, although it turns out that they are 
harmless space voyagers stranded on earth for repairs. 

We do not yet know the truth about UFOs. But their portrayal 
may reveal truths about ourselves. 

Stars Barbara Rush and Richard Carlson (foreground) 
jt>m fclfow carthtmgi tnngtng m tTTOUona! (rot of benign ulu-n<, in tin- 
1 95J fUm Jt Came from Outer Space. 






In another scene from It Came from Outer 
Space, on alien possessed human looks 
as ominous as any extraterrestrial as he 
halts a townsperson 's car. In the end, 
however, the aliens- caJied Ectopiasmic 
Xenomorphs -release their hold an 
their hosts and leave in pea^e. 



. i 

Gene Barry- leads survivors 
through nibhte wrought by ma 
uiuJirtg Martians in the I9SS 
classic War of the worlds. At 
right, a dying Martian, prey to 
the earth's bacteria, pokes a 
grisly arm through an opening 
in his downed machine -but 
not to shake hands. In this film, 
carthlings try to befriend the 
aliens, but they are only blasted 
to powder for their pains. 

About to head home, £. T. lays a 
fond finger on the forehead of 
his friend Elliott {Henry 
Thomas), promising that the 
two of them will always be 
clnic in spxnl tn this film, chil- 
dten save the little alien from 
the predations of grown-ups. In 
both £. T. and Close Encmmtvrs 
of the Third Kind, director Ste- 
ven Spielberg bccms to urge 
adults toward a childlike capac 
ity for awe and wonder at all 
life, wherever it comes from 



Into (he Saucer Era 

n June 24, 1947, Kenneth Arnold, a thirty-two-year-old Boise, Idaho, busi- 
nessman, was flying his single-engine plane at 9,200 feet over the Cascade 
Mountains of Washington. It was a fine, sunny afternoon, and Arnold was 
admiring the glorious view when suddenly a blue- white flash broke his rev- 
erie. "Explosion!" he thought instantly. It seemed close. The clock on his 
instrument panel read a few minutes before 3:00. 

His heart pounded as he waited for the sound and shock wave of the 
blast. Seconds passed. Nothing. Arnold scanned the sky in all directions. "The 
only actual plane I saw," he later recalled, "was a DC-4 f ar to my left and rear, 
apparently on its San Francisco-Seattle run." He began to breathe easier— and 
then another brilliant blue-white flash lit the cockpit. 

This time, he saw that the light came from the north, ahead of his plane. 
In the far distance, he made out a formation of dazzling objects skimming the 
mountaintops at incredible speed. Arnold decided that they must be a squad- 
ron of the new air force jet fighters that were just coming into service. Distance 
was hard to gauge, but he thought they might be twenty miles away, nine of 
them flying in a tight echelon. Every few seconds two or three would dip or 
bank slightly and reflect a blaze of sunlight from their mirrorlike surfaces. 
Arnold judged their wingspan to be forty-five to fifty feet, and he made up his 
mind to measure their speed. When the first object shot past Mount Rainier, 
his panel clock read exactly one minute to 3:00. When the last one zipped past 
the crest of Mount Adams, the elapsed time was one minute, forty-two sec- 
onds. Arnold checked his map; the peaks were forty-seven miles apart. He 
worked out the mathematics. The speed was 1 ,656 miles per hour, nearly three 
times faster than any jet he had ever heard of. 

Arnold landed at Yakima at about 4:00 p.m. and raced to tell his friend Al 
Baxter, manager of Central Aircraft. Baxter called in several of his pilots to 
listen to the amazing tale. One of the flyers thought the objects might be a salvo 
of guided missiles from a nearby test range. But why the banking and turning? 
Such abilities did not fit any rockets they knew. 

A little later Arnold took off for Pendleton, Oregon. The news of his 
experience had preceded him, and a gaggle of reporters surrounded his plane 

at the airport. When Arnold told his story, he was barraged 
with questions, many of them sharp and doubtful. But he 
stuck to his account, and eventually even the skeptics were 
impressed. Arnold seemed the solidest of citizens, a success- 
ful salesman of fire-fighting equipment and an experienced 
search and rescue pilot. He had logged more than 4,000 hours 
in the air and had flown the Cascades many times. 

When he was asked to describe the mysterious objects, 
he struggled for the right words. He thought they looked like 
speedboats in rough water, or maybe the tail of a Chinese kite 
blowing in the wind. Then he said, "They flew like a saucer 
would if you skipped it across the water." 

Some reporters persisted in questioning Arnold's cal- 
culations, wondering about the accuracy of his timing. He had 
not used a stopwatch or any sort of sighting device but had 
simply done it by eye. Even so, the lowest estimate of speed 
was 1 ,350 miles per hour. The objects could not have been 
jets, and they did not fly like 
missiles. Most of those who 
listened to Ken Arnold that 
day were convinced that he 
had seen something ex- 
tremely unusual, some- 
thing perhaps not of this 
world. The thought was ee- 
rie—and a little alarming. 

The Cascades inci- 
dent provoked consider- 
able debate and com- 
ment— some ofit scoffing— 
among scientists. Arnold 
himself was too credible to 
be dismissed as a crank, 
and he did not act like a 
prankster or publicity seek- 
er. The critics focused on 
the likelihood of honest er- 
ror or illusion. One scientist 
pointed out that the human 

eye does not have the resolving power to distinguish objects 
forty-five to fifty feet across at twenty miles. Arnold must 
have misjudged the distance; the objects he saw had to have 
been much closer. They were probably a flight of military jets 
flying at subsonic speed, which would have appeared fan- 
tastically fast at near range. Another argued that because 
Arnold had established distance using the mountains as fixed 
reference points, his estimate of size had to be wrong; the 
objects were much bigger than he judged— bombers most 
likely. The air force would not say whether it did or did not 
have any planes aloft near the Cascades at that time; the 
military men merely put it down as an optical illusion, a 
mirage in which the tips of the mountains appeared to float 
above the earth as a consequence of a layer of warm air. 

Whatever Kenneth Arnold did or did not see, his report 
marked the beginning of what came to be known as the 
modern flying saucer era. Within a few days of June 24, at 

least twenty other people in 
widely scattered parts of 
the country told of seeing 
similar objects in the sky. 
Some of the sightings re- 
portedly occurred on the 
very day of Arnold's en- 
counter. Some had preced- 
ed it. A few came a day or so 
later. In any case, a histori- 
an of the period wrote, "the 
floodgates were now open 
for the rush of reports that 
was soon to follow. But it 
had taken a man of Arnold's 
character and forthright 
conviction to open them." 

What followed was a 
phenomenon in its own 
right. In the next five years 
or so, thousands upon 
thousands of sightings of 


unidentified flying objects would be claimed in North Amer- 
ica. The sightings would come in waves, periods of relative 
quiet ending with floods that would engender hundreds of 
reports in a single month. UFOs would become a staple of the 
press— and of comedians and cartoonists. As UFOs came to 
fill the public consciousness, millions of words would be 
written about them, and scientists would engage in long, 
sometimes acrimonious debate. Could UFOs possibly be real? 
If so, what might be the intelligence behind them? And what 
did this intelligence want? Was it hostile? Friendly? Merely 
curious? Where did these things come from? Did they origi- 
nate on earth? Or were they machines and creatures from 
somewhere out there, somewhere out among those myste- 
riously winking stars in the black vastness of space? 

True believers found meaning in virtually every report, 
while total skeptics refused to credit even their own eyes. The 
United States Air Force, guardian of the nation's skies, ago- 
nized for years over the phenomenon, publicly downplaying 
the UFOs yet at the same time scrutinizing the accounts of 
them, most particularly those of its own highly trained air- 
crews. Investigations were started, stopped, and started 
again under various security classifications. Sometimes the 
air force cooperated with private researchers; sometimes it 
refused to divulge any information about UFOs. Underlying 
all was the nagging fear that perhaps some of these inexpli- 
cable objects were Soviet secret weapons. 
^^^^^ s time went on, official Washington 

^^^^!^^^_ almost seemed to conclude that the 
^^tf^^^^^ unrelenting furor over UFOs was itself 

a greater danger to public calm and 
safety than the UFOs themselves. In- 
creasingly, the air force and other gov- 
ernment agencies labored to deny, ridicule, explain away, 
or otherwise lay to rest the UFO phenomenon. The campaign 
was marked by confusion, contradiction, and at times, out- 
right falsehood. And it failed dismally to achieve its purpose. 
The unfathomable UFOs continued to intrigue the American 
public with a succession of ever more fascinating and dis- 
turbing visitations. 

Kenneth Arnold might have wondered what he had 
wrought that day he flew over the Cascades. On his heels 
came a surge of sightings that reached 100 a day during the 
week of July 5. So many people reported they were seeing so 
many things that even sensation-seeking newspapers were 
surfeited, and a note of ridicule began to creep into the sto- 
ries. Soon the press was automatically labeling every claim a 
hoax or the work of a crackpot. This scornful incredulity was 
reinforced by air force statements confidently branding every 
report a mistake. Indeed, only a few weeks after the Arnold 
sighting, the air force announced it was no longer looking 
into UFOs; a press release from headquarters in Washington 
stated that a preliminary study had "not produced enough 
fact to warrant further investigation." But the air force was 
nowhere near as sure as it wanted people to think. 

The elaborate show of unconcern was merely a cover 
for a classified project designed to pin down the facts about 
UFOs. The very same day that Washington reported no in- 
terest, the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, Ohio, an- 
nounced that it was investigating further to determine wheth- 
er the objects were meteorological phenomena. Then a cloak 
of secrecy was thrown over the project for fear that the UFOs 
might somehow be the work of the Russians. 

For the next six months, air force researchers sifted 
through the reports and found 1 56 worthy of further study. So 
interesting were the results that the investigators requested 
a more complete probe. And at the end of 1947, the com- 
manding officer at Wright Field sent a message to the Pen- 
tagon stating flatly that "the phenomenon reported is some- 
thing real and not visionary or fictitious." Washington was 
impressed enough to establish a project, code named Sign, at 
Wright Field with orders to collect and evaluate "all infor- 
mation concerning sightings and phenomena in the atmo- 
sphere which can be construed to be of concern to the na- 
tional security." 

One startling occurrence that helped galvanize the air 
force into action had taken place in the southwestern desert 
several weeks after the Arnold sighting over the mountains 
of Washington state. It was the first report of a crashed UFO. 


The premier issue of Fate magazine, appearing 
in the spring of 1 948, ran as its cover story 
a first-person account by civilian pilot Kenneth 
Arnold (right), who told of his encounter with 
nine UFOs the previous summer. Arnold's 
sighting inaugurated the term 
"flying saucer. 

The incident 
was marked by confusion 
and conflicting accounts in the press and by the air force, 
whose officers at first confirmed the story, then denied it. 

Everyone agreed, however, that something odd had 
happened on July 2 at Roswell, New Mexico. It began with 
descriptions of a large glowing object flying at high speed at 
about 9:50 p.m. Later that night, Mac Brazel, a sheep rancher 
northwest of Roswell, heard a tremendous explosion in the 
atmosphere that was much louder than the thunderstorm 
then sweeping the area. In the morning Brazel reputedly 
f ound fragments of a f oil-like substance, very thin and pliable 

but extremely tough, scattered over a 
quarter-mile of ground. By another ac- 
count, Brazel also found a disk-shaped ob- 
ject that he turned over to the intelligence 
officer at Roswell Army Air Field. Specu- 
lation was intense until July 8, when the 
Roswell Daily Record quoted Lieutenant 
Warren Haught, a public relations officer 
at the base: "The many rumors regarding the 
flying disk became a reality yesterday when the intelligence 
office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Ros- 
well Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession 
of a disk through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers 
and the sheriffs office of Chaves County." 

Although there were few other details, the mere con- 
firmation that some sort of UFO had been recovered caused 
a sensation. Telephone lines to the base were tied up for days, 
but the air force said nothing more. The strange disk frag- 
ments were taken to Eighth Air Force Headquarters in Fort 
Worth, Texas, where Brigadier General Roger Ramey went on 
the radio to call it all a mistake. What Mac Brazel had found, 
said the general, was the wreckage of a weather device. 


Air force officers exhibit debris from the 1947 crash of a flying object in Roswell, New Mexico. 

That was, in fact, what a number of skeptics had 
thought from the first. But the air force would not elaborate 
beyond holding a press conference at which General Ramey 
permitted photographers to take a few shots of some twisted 
wreckage. When the photographers complained that they 
had not been allowed close enough, a second press confer- 
ence was held. This time, however, the cameramen claimed 
that the wreckage was not the same; the fragments had been 
switched. And there the story rested, in a sort of limbo, with 
public and press guessing what might have happened. For 
years afterward, UFO enthusiasts would insist that the air 
force was engaging in a cover-up of the real story, and in 1 987 
documents would surface allegedly showing that the space- 

craft and the bodies of four crewmen had in fact been re- 
covered and kept from public view. 

In the wake of the Roswell incident, UFO reports surged 
again. That very week, some of the first photos purporting to 
show UFOs in flight were snapped in Phoenix, Arizona. The 
photographer was William A. Rhodes, who described himself 
as a scientific consultant. At dusk on July 7, reported Rhodes, 
he was in his house when he heard a loud roaring noise 
outside. For some reason, he said, he thought it might be a 
flying saucer and rushed out with his camera just in time 
to snap two shots of an object flashing away to the south- 
west. Rhodes said that it was shaped something like a man's 
shoe heel— which corresponded closely to the description 


Ken Arnold had given of the objects over the Cascades. 

The pictures ran in the Arizona Republic on July 9. 
Rhodes later related that, during the following week, he was 
visited by an FBI agent and an air force intelligence officer, 
both of whom questioned him closely. They asked Rhodes to 
lend them the negatives for evaluation, and he complied. The 
following month, said Rhodes, he asked for his negatives 
back but was informed by letter that they could not be re- 
turned. Early in 1948, said Rhodes, two officers from Project 
Sign came out to interview him. But that was the last of it; 
Rhodes never heard from the air force again— and never re- 
ported another UFO. As f or the air f orce, in its files the Phoenix 
sighting is labeled a "possible hoax," although some intel- 
ligence officers reportedly regarded the pictures as authentic. 
In any case, there was never a satisfactory explanation of why 
the air force judged it to be a hoax or why, for that matter, 
some officers disagreed with the official verdict. Like so much 
about UFOs, the story drifted into obscurity as newer, more 
dramatic incidents claimed the headlines. 

The public perception of UFOs had been that they were 
fascinating but harmless. But at this time, a grim element 
entered the picture: A young fighter pilot was killed while 
chasing one. Even skeptics conceded that the reports were no 
longer quite the laughing matter they had once been, and 
believers found new fuel for their fears: The strange objects 
might be not only extraterrestrial but perhaps deadly as well. 

The incident began like many of the others. Shortly after 
noon on January 7, 1948, a number of people in western 
Kentucky reportedly saw a strange object racing through the 
sky at high speed. It was huge, between 250 and 300 feet in 
diameter, and it looked, said one observer, a little like "an ice 
cream cone topped with red." There were plenty of creditable 
witnesses, including the tower operators and the base com- 
mander at Godman Air Force Base, near Fort Knox, where the 
thing swooped overhead sometime later. As it happened, four 
Air National Guard F-5 1 Mustang fighters were coming in to 
land and were radioed to peel off and have a closer look. 

One plane was low on fuel and continued in, but the 
pilots of the other three prop-driven Mustangs, led by Captain 

Thomas Mantell, rammed home their throttles and climbed 
swiftly toward the object. One flyer said it seemed metallic 
and confirmed that it was "of tremendous size." His wing- 
man described it as "round like a teardrop, and at times 
almost fluid."At this point, two of the F-5 Is broke off the 
chase, but flight leader Mantell radioed that he would try for 
an even closer inspection. By now it was 3:15, and Mantell 
radioed the tower: "I'm going to 20,000 feet and if I'm no 
closer then, I'll abandon chase." That was the last anyone 
heard from him. A few hours later, Mantell's body was found 
in the wreckage of his F-5 1 Mustang near Fort Knox. 

An air force investigation concluded that Mantell had 
blacked out around 20,000 feet from lack of oxygen and had 
simply spun to earth; none of the fighters had been carrying 
oxygen on the training mission, said the air force, and Mantell 
had foolishly flown too high. The air force suggested that the 
strange object that had lured him to his death was nothing 
more than the planet Venus shining in the midafternoon sky. 

he air force explanations sounded odd to 
some people. Private calculations of the 
planet's elevation and azimuth in rela- 
tion to Mantell's course when last seen 
indicated that this was impossible. The 
incident contributed to scary rumors that Mantell had been 
shot from the sky by an alien spacecraft. Later, investigators 
suggested an explanation that the air force had not been 
aware of at the time. The U.S. Navy was engaged in high- 
altitude research under a program called Project Skyhook. 
Mantell, said the researchers, could have been chasing one 
of the project's stratospheric balloons. 

In any case, the incident convinced the Pentagon that it 
needed stronger scientific help to evaluate the reports com- 
ing in to Project Sign. The scholar chosen was J. Allen Hynek, 
a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, near 
Wright Field. Hynek later said the air force seemed as im- 
pressed by his strong skepticism about UFOs as by his cre- 
dentials. It was as though the air force just wished UFOs 
would go away and was relieved at Hynek's disbelief. 
Once or twice per month, Hynek would drive the sixty 

Several UFO sightings during the 
1 940s and 1 950s were attributed by 
the air force to the misidentification 
of military aircraft. For instance, 
some witnesses might actually have 
seen research balloons (left) made of 
a translucent plastic that glistened or 
changed colors in sunlight. Others 
may have been misled by two wing- 
less, saucer-shaped test planes, devel- 
oped by the navy (below) and the ar- 
my and air force (opposite). 

miles from Ohio State 
to Wright Field and go 
through a stack of UFO 
reports, saying, "Well, 
this is obviously a meteor," or "This is not a meteor, but I'll 
bet you it's a balloon." Hynek later confessed that he always 
started from the assumption that there was a natural expla- 
nation for everything. It was a reasonable enough attitude; 
the problem was that the evidence did not always support 
such an explanation. 

One episode that severely strained Hynek's hypothesis 
occurred a few months later, on July 23, 1948. For the first 
time, two obviously competent and dispassionate observers 
got a closeup look at a UFO— and unlike the unfortunate 
Captain Mantell, returned to tell about it. They were Captain 
C. S. Chiles and his copilot, J. B. Whitted, flying an Eastern 
Airlines DC-3 transport from Houston to Boston. At 2:45 a.m., 
they were at 5,000 feet a few miles south of Montgomery, 
Alabama, when Chiles saw a dull red glow in the sky ahead, 
approaching them from a little above and to the right. Chiles 
remarked casually to Whitted that it was a new military jet. 

The night was clear, with a few broken clouds and a 
bright moon. Both pilots could see the object racing in their 
direction. The DC-3's red and 
green warning lights were 
functioning perfectly. The pi- 
lots assumed that the jet 
would spot them and veer off. 
Chiles and Whitted could feel 
the sweat start on their brows 
as they watched the thing con- 
tinue straight for them, grow- 
ing larger by the second. In the 
horrifying moments before 
collision, they racked the cum- 
bersome DC-3 into a rivet- 
popping bank to the left. At 
that instant, the object 
changed course slightly to 

pass less than 100 feet off their right win 
was flying at about 700 miles per hour, 
thought, and as they watched, it pulled into 
a steep climb with a burst of orange flame 
from the rear and disappeared into the 
clouds. Both the pilot and copilot had 
seen the thing clearly; indeed, the 
image was bumed into their mem- 
ories. Chiles and Whitted described 
the aircraft as wingless and cigar- 
shaped, with rows of windows 
along the fuselage that glowed as 
brightly as magnesium flares. Pro- 
fessor Hynek interpreted the sight- 
ing as a meteor. Another astrono- 
mer shrugged and put it down to a 
pair of super-heated imaginations 
But the Chiles-Whitted sighting had a 
profound impact at Project Sign— to the 
point where a number of staff members 
joined in writing an unofficial estimate of 
the situation, saying that at least some of the 
UFOs being reported might be extraterrestrial 

The report went 

through channels to 
General Hoyt S. Vanden- 
berg, Air Force Chief of Starr 
who rejected it for lack of ev- 
idence. The report had been 
classified top secret on its way 
up the chain of command, ana 
after its rejection all copies 
were bumed. The authors of 
the extraterrestrial hypothesis 
were regarded as having lost 
credibility on Project Sign. 

Whatever dampening ef- 
fect the Vandenberg verdict 
might have had on the Sign 


researchers, though, it did nothing to diminish the number of 
UFO reports that the air force had to deal with. The sightings 
continued to flood in, and within a few months, Project Sign 
members were puzzling over yet another amazing incident. 
^^^^^^^ nee more the report came from a trained 

^^^^^^^^ anc * P resuma bly sober-minded profession- 

al, a fighter pilot who, on October I, had 
chased a UFO through the night skies over 
North Dakota. The episode began as Lieu- 
tenant George Gorman was about to land at Fargo after a 
routine patrol flight in his F-51 Mustang. When he com- 
menced his approach, he noticed what appeared to be the 
taillight of another aircraft 1 ,000 yards away. Gorman queried 
the control tower about it and was advised that no other plane 
was in the vicinity except for a Piper Cub, which he could 
plainly see below him. Gorman slid his Mustang in for a closer 
look at the strange light. "It was about six to eight inches in 
diameter," he recalled, "clear, white, and completely round, 
with a sort of fuzz at the edges. It was blinking on and off." 
As Gorman approached the light, it suddenly veered away in 
a sharp left turn and dove for the ground. Gorman threw his 
fighter into a 400 mile-per-hour dive but could not gain on the 
intruder, which all at once reversed course and started as- 
cending steeply. 

Fighter pilot that he was, Gorman went after the thing. 
"Suddenly, it made a sharp right turn," he said, "and we 
headed straight at each other. Just when we were about to 
collide, 1 guess I got scared." Gorman slammed his Mustang 
into a dive and saw the object pass about 500 feet over him. 

The chase continued. Again Gorman swung up and cut 
toward it. Again it turned and headed straight for him. This 
time, the intruder broke off just short of a collision and went 
into a vertical climb. Gorman followed it, but at 1 4,000 feet he 
lost airspeed; his Mustang shuddered and fell into a stall. At 
that, the object turned on a north by northwest heading and 
shot out of sight. 

The interception had lasted for a gut- wrenching twenty- 
seven minutes. Gorman, who had served as an instructor 
pilot during World War 11, later concluded that the unknown 

object was "controlled by thought." The maneuvers were just 
too sharp and too swift to have been performed otherwise. 

Early in 1 949, the air force appeared to embark on a new 
approach to UFOs. The security of Project Sign had been 
compromised by numerous stories in the press; it was there- 
fore canceled. The staffs final report recommended that fu- 
ture activity be carried on "at a minimum level" and that its 
special project status be terminated as soon as it became 
clear that UFO sightings posed no threat to U.S. security. 
What investigation there was would henceforth be code 
named Project Grudge; it was a curious code name, with a 
dictionary meaning of "deep-seated resentment or ill will," 
and it drew comment when it became known. But the air 
force denied any special significance. The project would, 
however, proceed in secrecy. 

Again, the air force seemed to be saying two things at 
once by minimizing the importance of UFOs while declining 
to release information about them. Critics suggested that the 
air force did not want too many people looking too closely 
into UFOs, that it wanted to control whatever research there 
would be. By classifying the reports, particularly the so-called 
good sightings, it prevented independent scientists from con- 
ducting studies, thereby forestalling any conclusions about 
UFOs that it might not approve. Project Grudge's mandate, it 
seemed to the critics, was to deny or explain away all sight- 
ings. They complained that it shifted the focus from the phe- 
nomena to the people who reported them. 

That spring, with the air force's cooperation, a writer 
named Sydney Shalett attacked the whole notion of UFOs 
with a scathing two-part article in the Saturday Evening Post 
Shalett dismissed all UFO reports as mistakes, hoaxes, or 
illusions and advised that if a UFO should happen to crash, 
witnesses should "by all means secure the pieces— if they 
seem harmless." But, he added, "at the same time, maybe 
you'd better buttress yourself with an affidavit from your cler- 
gyman, doctor, or banker." 

The sarcasm was lost on many readers. Shortly after the 
article appeared, the number of UFO sightings hit an all-time 
high. Wondering if perhaps the article itself had triggered the 


A Wild Goose Chase 



which were designed to revolve in op- 
posite directions and had short rotor 
blades jutting from their rims— were 
separated by the pilot's cockpit, locat- 
ed near the motor mount. 

Although the investigators had found 
their evidence, the inventor's where- 
abouts were unknown. A former car- 
penter, Caldwell had taught himself 
aeronautics from books before forming 
his manufacturing company. He was 
even less educated, however, about 
the business world and had blithely 
issued stock whenever he needed 
more money to finance his venture. By 
1940, Maryland's attorney general be- 
gan conducting hearings on Caldwell's 
affairs. Caldwell soon vanished, leav- 
ing his prototype machines behind. 

Investigators were able, however, to 
interview a man who claimed to have 
piloted the disk-shaped helicopter in a 
Washington, D.C., test flight ten years 

In May 1949 the air force task unit as- 
signed to investigate UFO reports re- 
ceived a tantalizing letter. The writer, 
a man living in the state of Maryland, 
explained that years earlier he had 
purchased stock in a small local com- 
pany formed to manufacture aircraft. 
He had recently become concerned, 
however, that descriptions of the firm's 
proposed aircraft closely resembled 
those of the flying saucers he had read 
about. He felt compelled to pass this 
information to the authorities studying 
UFO sightings. 

Acting on this tip— and hoping it 
would solve some still unexplained 
UFO reports— a team of air force inves- 
tigators launched an inquiry into the 
dealings of the aeronautics firm, which 
was known as the Gray Goose Corpo- 
ration and had been founded by Jona- 
than E. Caldwell. The search led the 
team and Maryland state police to a 
farm in Glen Bumie, Maryland, a sub- 
urb eleven miles south of Baltimore. 

There, stored in 
an unused tobacco 
shed, were the 
remains of two of 
the Gray Goose 
Corporation's experi- 
mental flying ma- 
chines, which 
were noticeably 
saucerlike in design. 
One of the devices, 
discovered lying in 
pieces in the shed 
(above and right), 
was a small helicopter with a conven- 
tional fuselage. But mounted over 
the cockpit was a tripod supporting a 
disk fourteen feet in diameter, from 
which blades projected. 

The other, far less conventional craft 
was a spool-like structure consisting of 
two circular plywood and steel- 
reinforced frames, resembling huge 
cheese boxes. The two sections- 

earlier. On the basis of the date of the 
flight and the pilot's report that the 
craft stayed aloft only a f ew minutes at 
an altitude of about forty feet, the in- 
vestigators concluded that it could not 
have been the subject of a UFO sight- 
ing. Hence, the suspicions of Cald- 
well's stockholder yielded nothing, and 
local saucer reports remained, for the 
time being, a mystery. 


surge, the air force hastily issued a press release stating that 
all the sightings were products of a sort of mass hysteria and 
misidentifications of natural phenomena. Clearly, the cam- 
paign to put the quietus on UFOs was not working. 

roject Grudge lasted only six months and 
was then largely disbanded. Its final report 
dealt with 244 sightings and earnestly at- 
tempted to explain them all in terms of 
natural events. In the end, however, fifty- 
six of the sightings, or 23 percent, defied easy explanation. 
The report concluded, without offering any evidence, that 
these unexplained occurrences were the result of psycho- 
logical aberrations on the part of the observers. The report 
recommended that the study of UFOs be cut back because its 
very existence might encourage people to believe that there 
was some substance to them. 

In late December 1 949, the Project Grudge records were 
placed in storage, and most of its personnel were transferred 
to other jobs. Only a few researchers remained to collect 
sighting reports and file them away. Nevertheless, the air 
force was still curious enough about certain of the reports to 
launch a new and secret study known as Project Twinkle. 

More aptly named than Grudge, Twinkle was to make 
a detailed study of green fireballs that reliable observers had 
seen between 1947 and 1949 in northern New Mexico. The 
thingsresembled meteors— except for their bright green color 
and the fact that they moved slowly on a flat trajectory. The 
air force set up an observation post 1 05 miles southeast of the 
Los Alamos nuclear test site. It was an area where numerous 
fireballs had been observed in the past. The researchers were 
armed with cameras, telescopes, theodolites, and other op- 
tical equipment. They waited . . . and they waited. For six 
months they manned the post and saw nothing. 

Meanwhile, a rash of fireball sightings had occurred at 
Holloman Air Force Base, 1 50 miles to the south. The Twinkle 
crew packed up their gear and moved to Holloman— where 
they waited with growing frustration for another six months 
and saw nothing. Some staff members found it significant 
that the fireballs ceased when the air force went looking for 

them. At any rate, the air force decided to shrug off the fire- 
balls and terminated Project Twinkle. 

Inevitably, tales of the air force's frustration, confusion, 
and deep-lying concern got out, and this only served to in- 
crease belief among those so inclined. An early and promi- 
nent champion of UFOs was one Donald E. Keyhoe. Bom in 
1897, Keyhoe was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a 
retired Marine Corps major. He had served as an aircraft and 
balloon pilot in World War II before becoming a free-lance 
journalist and had a reputation as a somewhat cynical avi- 
ation writer with high-level military contacts. 

Late in 1949, True, a mass circulation men's adventure 
magazine, commissioned Keyhoe to write a comprehensive, 
independently researched article on flying saucers. Keyhoe 
may not have been a believer when he started. But he most 
certainly was when he finished. 

In January 1 950, True published under Keyhoe's byline 
an article entitled "The Flying Saucers Are Real." It caused an 
instant sensation, becoming one of the most widely read and 
discussed articles in recent publishing history. Keyhoe of- 
fered no conclusive evidence of his own that UFOs were real. 
Rather, he built his case around the apparent disarray the air 
force found itself in. He claimed that none of his high-level 
sources would talk about UFOs, which he took as powerful 
evidence that there was truth to the reports. He argued that 
the air force would not talk because it was hiding something 
tremendously important— and what else could it be if not that 
UFOs were real and came from outer space? Keyhoe thought 
that the authorities were covering up vital facts because they 
feared a nationwide panic. And once he had come to believe 
his theory, he took every denial or explanation as further 
proof that the public was being kept in the dark about a matter 
of utmost national importance. In the article, Keyhoe hinted 
that he did have some positive evidence for his belief; he 
suggested that certain unnamed sources had confirmed to 
him the existence of UFOs. 

Two months later, True published another flying- 
saucers-are-real story. It, too, caused a furor. The author this 
time was Commander Robert B. McLaughlin, a naval officer 


and guided-missile expert on active duty at the White Sands 
Proving Grounds in New Mexico. McLaughlin wrote that on 
April 24, 1949, he and a group of other engineers had been 
preparing to launch a Project Skyhook high-altitude research 
balloon. As a preliminary, they had released a small weather 
balloon to establish wind patterns aloft. And when the the- 
odolite operator swung his instrument to track the balloon, a 
strange object had crossed its path. 

McLaughlin reported that the object was elliptical and 
close to 105 feet in diameter. It was flying at the extremely 
high altitude of about fifty-six miles, and the engineers cal- 
culated that it was moving through space at five miles per 
second— 18,000 miles per hour. At the end of its trajectory 
across the horizon, it soared higher at 9,000 miles per hour 
until it was lost from view. The object, said McLaughlin, was 
visible for one minute, and all the observers agreed that it was 
flat white in color. McLaughlin wrote that he was convinced 
the object "was a flying saucer, and further that these disks 
are spaceships from another planet." 

The White Sands sighting carried weight. Here was an 
experienced naval officer backed by a crew of engineers and 
a technician with a theodolite. What is more, McLaughlin 
largely eliminated any possible "balloon" explanation by 
stating that they had released a second weather balloon fif- 

teen minutes later; it did not behave in any way like the 
unidentified object, he said firmly. Even the severest critic had 
to think about this report. And the sighting grew in impor- 
tance when it came out that the navy had cleared McLaugh- 
lin's article for publication, even though it sharply contra- 
dicted the findings of Project Grudge. 

The sighting itself was not the only point of debate in the 
article. McLaughlin was one of the first to note a pattern of 
UFO incidents around military bases and atomic facilities in 
the southwest. He calculated that the planet Mars had been 
in an excellent position to observe doings on Earth on July 16, 
1945, the day the first atomic bomb was exploded in New 
Mexico; the flash might have been bright enough to be visible 
from that planet, and thus have prompted a visit by curious 
Martians. Critics responded that more sightings should be 
expected at closely guarded facilities because more people 
there are on watch. True enough, but it could then be said 
about the sightings themselves that the quality of the observ- 
ers lent credence to the reports. 

Still, one thing that had been missing through it all was 
any reasonable photograph of a UFO. But that changed dra- 
matically on May 11, 1950, when Paul Trent, a farmer in 
McMinnville, Oregon, took two clear photographs of what 
looked very much like a hovering saucer. 

In 1950, Donald E. Keyhoe created a sensation by claiming the government was hiding UFO evidence. 

% I >-ir - " 1950. 

Trent's wife had been out back feeding her rabbits at 
about 7:30 in the evening when she saw a metallic, disk- 
shaped object gliding slowly overhead. She screamed to her 
husband and got her camera; Paul Trent rushed out and man- 
aged to snap two pictures before the thing disappeared. The 
Trents did not exploit their pictures. They showed them to a 
few friends, and eventually word reached the local newspa- 
per, which printed them a month later. 

The McMinnville pictures were subjected to intense 
scrutiny (pages 138- 139) by both flying saucer advocates and 
skeptics, and later by air force investigators working for the 
so-called Condon committee, a government-sponsored UFO 
study launched in the mid-1960s. The committee's report, 
published in 1969, dismissed all other purported UFO pho- 
tographs as either hoaxes or shots of natural phenomena— 
but not these pictures. Said the report: "All factors investi- 
gated, geometric, psychological and physical, appear to be 
consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying ob- 

ject, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter 
and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses." 
The report did not positively rule out a hoax but noted that 
"there are some physical factors, such as the accuracy of 
certain photometric measures of the original negatives, 
which argue against a fabrication." Or to translate from the 
officialese, the pictures looked genuine. 

That report was nineteen years in coming. In the mean- 
time the most creditable case for UFOs continued to be made 
by professionals, most often military aviators. But consider- 
ing the prevailing Washington mood about unidentified 
flying objects, many officers were reluctant to go public with 
their sightings for fear of ridicule or damage to their careers. 
Some fliers only spoke up publicly years later. A striking 
example appeared in the June 1973 issue of Naval Aviation 
News, an official fleet publication. The story was called "Un- 
identified Flying Object— A Provocative Tale." Related by an 
anonymous pilot who signed himself "B," it told of an event 


that had taken place more than twenty years before. 

On February 10, 1951, according to B, he had been flying 
a four-engine cargo plane west across the North Atlantic on 
a course for Newfoundland. The plane was three and a half 
hours out of Iceland, at 1 0,000 feet, and making 200 knots 
ground speed (230 miles per hour). A weather ship off the 
coast of Greenland reported normal conditions on the route. 

Just before dawn, B noticed a yellow glow in the western 
sky; it seemed to be thirty or thirty-five miles away. "My 
impression," he recalled, "was that there was a small city 
ahead." Both B and "K," his copilot, thought they had drifted 
toward Greenland. But the navigator checked and reported 
the plane exactly on course. When the plane was about fifteen 
miles from the glow, the apparition began to look like a cir- 
cular pattern of lights. B then thought that it might be coming 
from two ships moored together. At a range of about five 
miles, the lights, by that point brilliant white, suddenly went 
out. A yellow halo appeared on the water where they had 
been; the halo turned orange and then a fiery red. B related 
that the halo "started moving towards us at a fantastic speed. 
It looked as though we were going to be engulfed." 

B desperately maneuvered to avoid the onrushing ob- 
ject—which then swung around and joined a loose formation 
with the plane, 200 to 300 feet ahead and 100 feet below. "It 
appeared to be from 200 to 300 feet in diameter, translucent 
or metallic, shaped like a saucer," according to B. Then the 
object reversed course and streaked away at a speed that B 
estimated to be in excess of 1 ,500 miles per hour. 

A shaken crewman radioed the field at Gander, New- 
foundland, to report the sighting and learn if the object was 
visible -on radar. When the plane landed, said B, he and his 
crew were debriefed by intelligence officers, and they were 
required to make a full report when they arrived in the United 
States. B concluded by stating that sometime later he learned 
that Gander radar had tracked an object moving through the 
sky at a speed greater than 1,800 miles per hour. 

Matters were coming to a head for the air force. Later 
that year, on September 1 0, an air force pilot over Fort Mon- 
mouth, New Jersey, spotted a round, silver, flattish object with 

a diameter of thirty to fifty feet. He radioed in the report, and 
a nearby radar station managed to track the object. By then, 
almost two years had passed since the air force had more or 
less shelved its Project Grudge, and the UFO phenomenon 
was no closer to dying out than before. In fact, there was an 
increasing body of evidence that suggested a need for further 
study, serious study. 

Late in September, on orders from the Air Force Chief 
of Intelligence, Project Grudge was reactivated, and Captain 
Edward J. Ruppelt was appointed its boss. A coolheaded 
World War 11 bombardier, Ruppelt was the right man for the 
job: He was convinced that UFOs were worth investigating, 
but he was determined to be absolutely evenhanded about 
it, neither an advocate nor a debunker. 

Ruppelt understood the reluctance of many military pi- 
lots to report UFO sightings. He made up standardized forms, 
sent them to all commands, and got a directive from the 
Pentagon instructing every air force unit anywhere in the 
world to report UFO sightings promptly. In addition, he re- 
tained J. Allen Hynek as his chief scientific consultant; for all 
Hynek's tendency to see UFOs as natural and earthly in origin, 
he remained a top-flight scientist with an invaluable fund of 
knowledge about earlier UFO sightings. Moreover, Ruppelt 
began a new system of cooperation with the press by issuing 
regular releases about sightings and investigations. 
^^^^^^^^ erhaps the more open policy was a factor, 
^^^W^^^^ but 1952 became a boom year for UFOs, 
^^^^^ with a stunning 1 ,501 reports. That spring, 
when it became apparent that a UFO wave 
was building, the air force decided to up- 
grade Grudge to a separate organization called Project Blue 
Book. For starters, Ruppelt briefed top officers of the Air De- 
fense Command on the project and enlisted their help in using 
the command's radarscope cameras to help detect UFOs. 

One series of sightings that captured Ruppelt's interest 
came to be known as the Lubbock lights. Over a two-week 
period in August and September 1951, hundreds of people 
had seen strange nighttime objects in the skies over Lubbock, 
Texas. The sequence began at 9:00 p.m. on August 25, when 


a man and his wife were startled by what appeared to be a 
huge, wing-shaped UFO with blue lights on its trailing edge 
passing over the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico, at an 
altitude of some 1 ,000 feet. About twenty minutes later in 
Lubbock, three college professors taking their ease on a 
porch saw a semicircular formation of lights sweep overhead 
at high speed. But the lights came and went so swiftly that no 
one got a good look. The professors were annoyed and 
vowed to be more alert if the lights returned. Just over an hour 
later, the lights were back, and this time the professors de- 
termined that they were softly glowing bluish objects flying in 
a loose formation. 

The next day, a nearby Air Defense Command radar 
station reported that its equipment had registered an un- 
identified target at 13,000 feet. It was traveling at 900 miles 
per hour, half again as fast as any jet fighter then in service. 
Dozens of people in and around Lubbock said that they had 
seen the lights, and one woman drew a picture of a wing- 
shaped object remarkably like the one in Albuquerque. 

The lights returned to Lubbock five days later, and this 
time, Carl Hart, Jr., a freshman at Texas Technical College, 
managed to get five photographs with his 35-mm Kodak cam- 
era. The photos showed a V formation of lights. The images 
did not coincide with the lights seen by the three professors; 
these lights were in an irregular pattern. The air force ana- 

lyzed the negatives and found no evidence that they had been 
faked. But that did not jibe with the assessment of at least one 
eminent scientist: Donald H. Menzel, a professor of astro- 
physics at Harvard University, who had emerged as a pow- 
erful critic of UFOs. 

Menzel did not mince words. He stated frankly that he 
did not believe even in the possibility of UFOs' being extra- 
terrestrial visitors; he either offered a scientific explanation 
for every sighting or dismissed it as a fraud. Menzel viewed 
his role as that of defending the bastions of learning against 
the forces of ignorance -and greed. Said an editor who knew 
him: "Menzel was convinced of his own infallibility, and he 
thought anyone who was interested in UFOs was a charlatan, 
or such a person wouldn't be interested." 

Menzel was scornful of the Lubbock lights, observing 
that if the lights were traveling as fast as the Lubbock pro- 
fessors said, then no one could have photographed them with 
a relatively unsophisticated camera, such as Hart's Kodak. 


For two weeks in August 1 951, soji blue 
lights, ranging in number from two to sever- 
al dozen, raced in formation over Lubbock, 
Texas. Many reliable witnesses reported the 
objects, and one observer captured them in 
the four photographs shown here. 

Menzel decreed that the Lubbock lights were merely the re- 
flections of streetlights, automobile headlights, or house 
lights against a rippling layer of fine haze "probably just over 
the heads of the observers." In a two-part article for Look 
magazine in June 1952, he described a historical sighting 
dating back to 1893 that sounded similar to the Lubbock 
lights. Menzel also published a photograph of a formation of 
UFOs that he had faked in his laboratory. Menzel's point, 
apparently, was that since the photos could have been faked, 
they probably were. It is not known how Captain Ruppelt and 

the Blue Book investigators felt about Menzel's faked pho- 
tographs. But they did eventually conclude that the Lubbock 
lights were natural phenomena. 

Nevertheless, many people f ound the explanations un- 
convincing, and in early 1952, Life magazine gave a team of 
writers and researchers an assignment to produce a defini- 
tive article on UFOs. The Life team got full cooperation from 
Captain Ruppelt and his staff members, who opened their 
files and declassified sighting reports on request. 

When the Life story was published in April, it caused 
an uproar that made the reaction to Donald Keyhoe's True 
article pale by comparison. Said Life: "These objects cannot 
be explained by present science as natural phenomena— but 
solely as artificial devices created and operated by a high 
intelligence." The article gave details of ten previously un- 
published reports, which the writers argued could not be 
explained by the usual references to balloons, mirages, in- 
versions, or mental aberrations. And one noted scientist, 

Donald H. Menzel shows how ground lights might create UFO-like images under certain atmospheric conditions. 


Walter Reidel, former director of the German wartime rocket 
base at Peenemiinde, was quoted as saying that he believed 
in the extraterrestrial origin of UFOs. When the air force was 
questioned about the article, it responded: "The article is 
factual, but Life's conclusions are its own." 

Following the Life story, the monthly level of UFO sight- 
ings went from the normal 1 0 or 20 to 99 in April and 1 49 in 
June. They came from every part of the country, and the 
number kept rising. In July there were 536, three times the 
June figure; on July 28 alone, there were 50 reports. The wave 
began to subside in August, 
with 326, and then the sight- 
ings tailed off to about 50 a 
month for the rest of the year. 

Ruppelt and his Blue 
Book staff were overwhelmed. 
They could barely screen, 
classify, and file the reports. 
There was no time to investi- 
gate more than a handful of 
them. Indeed, the New York 
Times reported that so many 
inquiries about UFOs were 
coming to all intelligence 
agencies of the government 
that "regular intelligence 
work had been affected." 

During the wave of 1 952, 
Blue Book's Captain Ruppelt 
counted no fewer than 16,000 
newspaper items about UFOs 
in one six-month period. Just 
as it appeared that things 
might be calming down, some 
sensational new report would 
capture the headlines all over 
again. One of the year's most 
fascinating sightings occurred 
at about 8:10 p.m. on July 14 

Ihc Orgonc BaitdUi 

Wilhelm Reich, a noted Austrian psychoanalyst, 
claimed to have seen unidentified flying objects sev- 
eral times. The alien occupants of these ships from 
other worlds were hostile, he believed, and were in- 
tent on robbing the earth of what Reich described as 
a precious substance called orgone— a cosmic life 
energy allegedly present in air, water, and all organ- 
ic matter. He said that the saucers were propelJed by 
orgone and that orgone's blue color accounted for 
the bluish lights that are often described by witness- 
es to UFO incidents. 

In place of orgone. Reich suggested, the space- 
ships were releasing a negative energy he called 
"deadly orgone." which caused sickness in humans 
and left the land a parched desert. 

near Norfolk, Virginia. The evening was clear and visibility 
was unlimited. The pilot and copilot of a Pan American DC-4, 
flying at 8,000 feet on the New York-Miami run, saw a glow 
in the sky that soon resolved itself into six fiery red objects, 
each of them about 100 feet in diameter. "Their shape was 
clearly outlined and evidently circular," said Captain William 
B. Nash. "The edges were well-defined, not phosphorescent 
or fuzzy in the least." 

As Nash and copilot William Fortenberry watched in 
amazement, the six disks in a narrow echelon formation 

were joined by two more, all 
flying at about 2,000 feet over 
the waters of the Chesapeake 
Bay. When the disks were al- 
most under the airliner, they 
dimmed slightly and flipped on 
edge in unison. The edges 
seemed to be about fifteen feet 
thick, and the top surfaces ap- 
peared flat. Nash and Forten- 
berry radioed a report to be 
forwarded to the air force, and 
at 7:00 the next morning they 
were asked to come in for 
questioning. After more than 
two hours of interrogation, 
first separately, then together, 
Nash and Fortenberry were 
told that the disks had been 
observed by seven other 
groups in the area. 

Project Blue Book 
checked the positions of all 
known military and civilian 
aircraft in the vicinity at the 
time but found nothing to ac- 
count for the sighting— which 
went into the files as officially 
"unexplained." Harvard's 


Professor Menzel carried on a lengthy correspondence with 
Captain Nash, once suggesting that the pilot had been fooled 
by fireflies trapped between the double panes in the cockpit 
window. Later, despite weather reports to the contrary, Men- 
zel concluded that the sighting was caused by lights on the 
ground distorted by haze and a temperature inversion. 

By then, UFOs were generating such excitement around 
the country— and raising so many unanswered questions— 
that two private research groups were formed to collect and 
examine UFO information independently of the air force. The 
most active, the Aerial Phe- 
nomena Research Organiza- 
tion, known by the acronym 
APRO, was founded by Coral 
and Jim Lorenzen, private UFO 
researchers in Sturgeon Bay, 
Wisconsin; APRO had so much 
to talk about that it published 
a bimonthly newsletter. 

Just four days after the 
Nash-Fortenberry incident 
over the Chesapeake Bay, a 
fantastic series of sightings 
nearby set everyone's UFO an- 
tennae twanging. This time 
the drama began at Washing- 
ton's National Airport, a few 
miles from the White House. 
The first occurred at 1 1 AO on 
the night of July 19, when air 
controllers at National picked 
up seven slow-moving objects 
on two radarscopes. Accord- 
ing to the senior controller, 
Harry G. Barnes, the radar 
showed the objects to be 
about fifteen miles from the 
airport and traveling between 
100 and 130 miles per hour. 

Symbols of Harmony 

Renowned Swiss psychologist Carl Jung theorized 
that all people can tap into what he called the col- 
lective unconscious— an area of the unconscious 
that, according to Jung, contains information derived 
from the experiences of the human race as a whole 
rather than those of the individual. This storehouse 
contains universal symbols called archetypes. Jung 
maintained that archetypes present themselves 
spontaneously in dreams or visions, evoking strong 
emotional and imaginative responses. 

One such image was the mandala, a disk-shaped 
symbol that signified completion or totality. Jung 
suggested that flying saucers might not be real ob- 
jects but rather mandalas visualized in the sky by 
people yearning for harmony and equilibrium. 

Barnes called the airport tower and learned that the 
local radar operator was picking up the same images. Fifteen 
miles away, across the Potomac River in Maryland, control- 
lers at Andrews Air Force Base were seeing the identical blips 
on their radar. At 3:00 a.m., Barnes officially notified the U.S. 
Air Force Air Defense Command. It took the air force half 
an hour to respond, but finally a pair of radar-equipped 
F-94 night fighters roared in, made a few noisy passes over 
the field, scanned the nearby skies— and found nothing. 
As soon as the jets departed, the blips magically reappeared 

on the radar screens and re- 
mained there, moving slowly 
until daybreak. The air force 
said nothing, but the news 
leaked out and the story broke 
like a thunderclap in the morn- 
ing papers. The tight-lipped air 
f orce ref used to admit to clam- 
oring reporters that it had 
actually scrambled jets to in- 

tercept the UFOs. 

Professor Menzel once 
again called the incident a 
case of temperature inversion. 
He correctly pointed out that in 
such cases ghostly blips have 
been known to appear on rad- 
arscopes, something that 
most people did not know. But 
controller Barnes did not ac- 
cept the explanation. "Inver- 
sion blips are always recog- 
nized by experts," he 
declared. "We are familiar 
with what weather conditions, 
flying birds, and such things 
can cause on radar." There 
was no rebuttal from Menzel. 

The UFOs returned to 


Hie Evidence of flie Radar Screen 

If skeptics of the phenomenon of un- 
identified flying objects had a motto, it 
would probably be "show me proof." 
Proof exists, say many UFO investiga- 
tors in reply to this charge, pointing to 
visual sightings that are backed up by 
the presumably objective eye of radar. 
Radar, an acronym for radio detect- 

side lobes can project a weak return 
from an object detected by the main 
beam; the two blips of light moving 
across the radarscope will appear as a 
small target chasing a larger one. Ab- 
normal atmospheric conditions may 
also cause reflected waves to move or 
to portray targets outside the normal 

ing and ranging, works by directing 
electromagnetic waves at an object. 
The waves reflect from the target back 
to a receiving device that determines 
the object's distance, direction, and 
rate of speed. This information is 
translated into video signals and dis- 
played on a screen. 

Unfortunately, radar is not foolproof. 
Frequently, radar reflections— or re- 
turns, as they are called— appear on 
the screen where no target is present. 
Some phantom returns are easily rec- 
ognized as waves bouncing off ground 
objects. Others, however, are more dif- 
ficult to identify. 

Radio waves diffracted from the 
main beam, called side lobes, may 
transmit a return that seems to come 
from an object in the path of the main 
beam. If the target is moving, the mis- 
placed return moves too. In addition, 

field of the beam and distort their size, 
speed, or altitude. 

Phantom images have appeared on 
both ground-based and aircraft radar, 
and experienced operators know how 
to interpret them. But more than a few 
observers have been baffled by some 
returns that have crossed their 
screens, and a number of radar- 
tracked UFO episodes remain unex- 
plained—at least to the satisfaction of 
those who tracked them. 

Although radar may add some credi- 
bility to UFO sightings, cautious 
researchers— such as the British ufol- 
ogist Jenny Randies— recognize the 
limitations of the science. "Radar evi- 
dence is not, unfortunately, a talisman 
for the ufologist," she explains, "but is 
as complex and ambiguous in its inter- 
pretation as any other kind of report." 

A radar operator on an air force jet 
that was /tying near Bermuda in 
1954 detected seven unidentified 
objects moving in unison across 
his radarscope. Although a radio 
check indicated no naval activity in 
the area, the incident was later 
attributed to ship movement. 


Air traffic controller Harry C. Barnes 
tracked some of the UFOs that were reported 
over Washington, D.C., in 1 952. The air 
force blamed the sightings on temperature inversions. 

Washington a week later, on 
July 26. At 10:30 that evening, 
the air traffic radar at National 
Airport again picked up blips. 
There were five or six objects, 
which seemed to be moving 
south. Once more, Harry 
Barnes checked with the An- 
drews tower in Maryland; the 
controllers there also had un- 
known targets showing on 
their scopes. And the pilots of 
departing and arriving airlin- 
ers radioed reports of strange 
sightings near the airport. 

At 1 1 :00 p.m., Barnes 
called the Pentagon, which responded with no more alacrity 
than before. At 1 1:25, a pair of F-94s came howling over 
Washington. Again, the UFOs instantly disappeared from the 
radar screens. After ten minutes of fruitless search, the in- 
terceptors headed home. Back came the UFOs. At 3:20 a.m., 
with the UFOs constantly on radar, the air force sent in an- 
otherpair of F-94s. Butnow the UFOs remained visible on the 
screens, and one of the jet fighters reported a visual sighting 
of four lights. At one point, the pilot radioed that the lights 
were surrounding his plane. What should he do? he asked the 
ground controllers. Before the controllers could respond, the 
lights sped away. 

Next morning, the Pentagon was inundated with que- 
ries. Even President Harry Truman asked an aide to find out 
what in the world— or out of it— was going on. Finally, on July 
29, Major General John A. Samford, director of air force in- 
telligence, held a press conference. He told reporters he was 
convinced that all the sightings over Washington in the past 
two weeks had been caused by temperature inversions. The 
general said that outside scientists would be asked to exam- 
ine the reports more closely— but there is no evidence that 
such a panel was ever assembled. 

The news media by and large accepted the air force's 

explanation or dismissed the 
incidents as a sort of mass hal- 
lucination. If the latter was 
true, the masses remained 
highly hallucinatory, for the 
UFO reports continued. Early 
in 1953 the air force and the 
Central Intelligence Agency 
were worried that the reports 
could prove dangerous to na- 
tional security. The CIA was 
concerned that the Soviets 
might use a wave of UFO re- 
ports as a cover for an aerial 
attack on the U.S. or deliber- 
ately confuse the U.S. into 
thinking that flights of bombers were merely more of those 
funny little men from Mars. At the very least, argued the CIA, 
the UFO craze could undermine public confidence in the U.S. 
military. Thus it became high-level policy to convince the 
country that UFOs simply did not exist. 

With the air force's blessing, the CIA formed a panel of 
five noted scientists otherwise not involved with UFOs. 
Chaired by H. P. Robertson, a physics and weapons expert at 
the prestigious California Institute of Technology, the group 
included Nobel laureate Luis Alvarez, who had played a ma- 
jor role in developing the atomic bomb, and Samuel Goud- 
smit, an associate of Albert Einstein with numerous theoret- 
ical advances to his own credit. 

The Robertson panel assembled in Washington on 
January 14, 1953. Over a three-day period, it was given 
seventy-five UFO reports. The scientists studied eight in close 
detail, took a general look at fifteen, and viewed two color 
film clips that showed maneuvering lights in the sky. All told, 
the panel spent twelve hours considering UFO phenomena. 
To some, that did not seem like a great deal of time, yet it was 
enough for the panel to firmly conclude that UFOs posed no 
physical risk to national security, but "continued emphasis 
on the reporting of these phenomena does result in a threat." 


The scientists recommended that Project Blue Book 
spend more time allaying public anxiety over UFOs than col- 
lecting and assessing data. They suggested that private UFO 
research groups be placed under surveillance because they 
might be used for "subversive purposes." The panel also 
recommended a campaign by national security agencies to 
"strip the UFO phenomenon of its special status and elimi- 
nate their aura of mystery," and it outlined a program of 
public education for "training and debunking." 

The Robertson report enabled the air force to say for 
the next fifteen years that an impartial scientific body had 
examined the UFO data and had found absolutely no evi- 
dence of anything unusual in the atmosphere. Its issuance, 
in fact, marked the beginning of the most concentrated 
campaign to date against UFOs. 

The air force, which had begun by skeptically investi- 
gating the phenomena and had swung between openness 
and secrecy in its dealings with the public, now came down 
hard on the side of secrecy. Beginning in August 1953, all 
UFO reports were squelched whenever possible, all informa- 
tion was classified. And in December, the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
moved to plug any leaks by making the unauthorized release 
of information a crime under the Espionage Act, punishable 
by a $10,000 fine or up to ten years in prison. Contrary to 

the Robertson panel's recom- 

mendation, however, Project 
Blue Book was not accorded 
an educational role but was 
downgraded to a virtual non- 
entity. The cooperative Cap- 
tain Ruppelt had left the 
project and the air force in Au- 
gust; by then, only he and two 
assistants remained of what 
had once been a ten-person 
staff. Blue Book became a 
mere repository of records and 
was assigned to Airman First 
Class Max Futch. 

"The eye is easily tricked, " according to illusionist 
John Mulholland, shown here making china saucers fly. In a 
1952 Popular Science article, the magician attributed 
UFO sightings to overworked imaginations. 

But the government's decision to forcibly deflate the 
UFO phenomenon was only partially successful. Although 
the dictum had its desired effect on government agencies, it 
did nothing to prevent people from seeing things in the sky or 
writing about them. In the years since Kenneth Arnold's eerie 
encounter over the Cascades, flying saucers had become an 
apparently ineradicable part of the American scene, both 
feared and laughed about, the subject of Hollywood horror 
films as well as scholarly books. In October 1953, that ardent 
champion Donald E. Keyhoe published his best-selling Flying 
Saucers from Outer Space. Hard on his heels followed the 
equally avid debunker, Donald H. Menzel, with Flying Sau- 
cers, a studious denial published by Harvard University Press. 
And so it went. 

In October, Look magazine bought excerpts from Key- 
hoe's book. Fearing the Look article would inflame more UFO 
reports, the air force got the magazine to include a disclaimer 
and allow air force scientists to dispute various points. But the 
more the air force tried to explain, the more Keyhoe asserted 
it was covering up what amounted to an invasion from outer 
space. He insisted that UFOs were extraterrestrial. Likewise, 
nothing would change the mind of Menzel, whose book 
mocked and attacked anyone who claimed to have seen a 
UFO, explaining everything as a natural phenomenon, optical 

illusion, or hoax. 

Between these two 
jousters stood the wondering 
American public. Much about 
UFOs beggared belief, of 
course. Yet there was still that 
element of uncertainty, that 
possibility. Over the years, a 
number of mysterious inci- 
dents had defied rational ex- 
planation, and such incidents 
would continue to occur. And 
some of them would go far be- 
yond being mere sightings of 
strange objects in flight. 

Kidnappers from Space 

Since the early 1960s, more and 
more people have reported not only seeing UFOs hut hcing taken 
aboard spacecraft against their will. While details differ, many of the 
incidents seem to follow a similar pattern. Most intriguing, perhaps, 
is the common claim that after the victims observe a UFO, they are 
surprised to find an hour or two has passed of which they have no 
recollection. In the days and months that follow, they may experi- 
ence nightmares, flashbacks, or extreme anxiety. Eventually they 
begin to recall-on their own or through hypnosis- that during the 
"missing time" they were abducted by aliens. 

Skeptics view these reports, which often include tales of probing 
physical examinations and even impregnation by extraterrestrials, 
as complete fabrications or perhaps hallucinations. Some imagina- 
tive UFO researchers, on the other hand, theorize that if the abduc- 
tion stories arc true, aliens may be conducting long-term studies of 
humans and performing genetic experiments in hopes of creating a 
human-alien hybrid. 

Whatever the merits of this theory, psychiatrists who have ex- 
amined alleged abduction victims find signs that they have under- 
gone a severe trauma. Some of the details of their ordeals— how the 
abduction took place, wha*t the aliens looked like, what the victims 
felt and saw -arc recounted on the following pages. 




Ire were driving along 
on a tarred road and all of a sudden, without 
any warning or rhyme or reason < «r anything, 
Barney stopped suddenly and made this 
sharp turn off the highway," Ttius did Betty 
HilL speaking under hypnosis, describe the 
first in a series of bizarre events that began 
on a September night in I %l as she and her 
husband were driving through the New 
Hampshire countryside 

While some people report encountering 
aliens in their homes, most are driving at 
night on dark, desolate roads ThL-y think they 
sec a lit otyect (lying over the car or hovenng 
in the distance, or feel Ihey are being 
watched As they con tin ue on their jnumey, 
the steering wheeJ seems to be wrenched 
from the driver's control, the car is guided by 
an outside lorce until it ultimately veers 
sharply off the road 

Such was the recollection of Steven Kil- 
hum. a student at the University of Maryland 
when he was supposedly abducted in 1973 
Under hypnosis, he described two lights in 
the sky. going over the highway, over the 
trees. I see a shadow of something. I'm com- 
ing down the hill, and t finally gel to about the 
spot where I think it will be and I pull over I 
don't really warn to go over there, but the car 
went to the right -it was really violent, as if 
sucked by a giant magnet/' 

lust before a victim's car halts, the electrical 
system is said to fail mysteriously, the radio 
blares static and ihen the engine dies The 
driver tries frantically to restart the engine, 
bul to no avail Some victims report slaying 
within the car: others step outside Despite 
Iheir terror, most remain rooted to the spot, 
unable to obey their baste, self- protective im- 
pulses to run away or call for help 


Alter Steven Ktl bum's 
car lurched to a s;- p beside a desert ed Mary- 
land highway, he watched dumb struck as 
three figures approached from a nearby field 
They're really strange, he recalled under 
hypnosis They re small, below my shoul- 
der t see the faces and they're white, chalky, 
they look like they're made out of rubber 
There's one, he's the boss His eyes are realty 
shiny, they look black I don't sec any pupils. 
Hi> hid is not round, it s like an inverted 
teardrop There is a nose, like a tiny, little 
raised ndge and two little holes Itkc 
little pin holes," 

Mijsi people who lell of K ing abducted 
have described their alien kidnappers as 
shurt -three to five feet tall -but emphasize 
that the leader of the group is slightly taller 
Some speak of alien beings with large domed 
heads set on small bodies, slits for eyes, and 
long, thin fingers and hands. 

The victims all report having felt afraid as 
the strange- looking beings advanced But 
they also tell of an almost iranquih2mg 
numbness or paralysis that overtook them, 
perhaps imposed by the aliens As Barney Hill 
recalled, "I started to get out of my car and put 
one foot on the ground Two men were stand- 
ing beside me helping me out J felt very re- 
laxed, yet very frightened," 

Charles E Hickson. a forty-five -year-old 
shipyard foreman, was fishing one evening in 
1 973 when he and a companion observed an 
elongated, oval object with (lashing blue 
lights The object hovered about two feet off 
the ground, he said, then it seemed to open 
up. but really there wasn't a door there at all, 
and three creatures came floating out toward 
us I was so scared, 1 couldn't believe it was 
happening His friend famiri v the sight 
Hickson remained standing, bis limbs com- 
pletely paralyzed Then, he recalled, he was 
Lilted by two of the aliens, and the group glid 
ed back into the spaceship 



A Time of Close Encounters 

illy Ray Taylor was thirsty. Night was falling, but the August heat lingered in 
the hills of southwestern Kentucky. The twenty-one-year-old Taylor was only 
looking for a cool drink when he ventured out of the house to visit the farm's 
well; what he apparently saw sent him dashing back to the farmhouse in a 
state of high excitement. 

The eleven members of the Sutton family, who lived in the house and 
worked the farm, heard their visitor's story with disbelief. A flying saucer, he 
exclaimed— a craft with an exhaust all the colors of the rainbow— had just 
flown over his head and plunged into a gully a few hundred yards from the 
house. The Suttons laughed him off. But they began to take him a little more 
seriously half an hour later, when the family dog started barking and then 
dashed under the house with his tail between his legs. 

As they told the story afterward, Taylor and another adult, Lucky Sutton, 
went to the door and looked out to see a glowing figure approaching the 
house. It came close enough for the two men to make out a forty-inch-tall 
creature with a round, oversized head; large, luminous yellow eyes; and 
talon-tipped arms that nearly dragged the ground. Sutton and Taylor did not 
bother with a neighborly welcome. They backed into the house and reached 
for a 20-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle. 

When the small creature came within twenty feet of the door, Taylor and 
Sutton opened fire. The figure somersaulted and disappeared. The two men 
ventured outside and saw a similar creature on the roof. Sutton fired and the 
being tumbled. They spotted a third alien —if such it was— perched in a maple 
tree and again shot toward it. The creature merely floated to the ground and 
ran away with an awkward, lopsided gait. As another figure rounded a corner 
of the house, Sutton opened up with his shotgun at point-blank range; the 
pellets sounded as if they had struck a metal bucket, and the creature was 
unfazed, although it retreated. 

After a while, the two men stopped shooting. They hunkered down in the 
house and tried to keep the younger Sutton children calm when the aliens 
peered into the windows. Finally, the terrified family sprinted to their cars and 
sped off to nearby Hopkinsville to fetch the police. 

The official response was prompt and thorough. Local 
and state police and a photographer drove back to the Sutton 
farm with the family and scoured the area; they found, ac- 
cording to one report, only a luminescent patch on the ground 
where one of the small creatures had supposedly landed after 
being knocked from its perch. The investigators left the site 
at 2: 15 a.m., and the household went to bed— but they were 
not there for long. 

The aliens returned. Once again they persisted in gazing 
into the farmhouse windows, and once again the Kentucky 
countryside rang with the men's shotgun blasts, which suc- 
ceeded in blowing many holes through the window screens 
but failed to draw blood from the otherworldly intruders. At 
5:15, just before dawn, according to the Suttons, the crea- 
tures vanished, never to reappear. 

The ordeal had not ended, however. For days, the farm 
was swarming with reporters from all over the state and 
those surrounding it. Sight- 
seers poured in, tramping 
through the acreage look- 
ing for signs of the aliens 
and barging into the house 
asking to photograph the 
exasperated farmers. UFO 
investigators were also 
there, combing the site. 

No physical evidence 
—other than the supposed 
glowing patch that re- 
mained on the earth— was 
found to support the story 
told by Taylor and the Sut- 
tons. Investigators did con- 
clude, however, that these 
people were sincere and 
sane and that they had no 
interest in exploiting the 
case for publicity. And there 
the matter would rest. 

The Kelly- Hopkinsville event, as it has come to be 
known for the farm's location between the towns of Hop- 
kinsville and Kelly, took place on August 21 and 22, 1955. It 
is considered a classic example of what would later be termed 
a close encounter of the third kind: a close-range sighting of 
a UFO and animated creatures. To be sure, such encounters 
had been reported before; the mystery airships of 1897 had 
supposedly disgorged some mysterious occupants (pages 18- 
22). But the 1950s and early 1960s marked the beginning of 
a remarkable wave of alien-sighting claims, ranging from 
distant glimpses of humanoids to more frightening stories of 
abduction and experimentation. 

Many ufologists separate so-called contactees— those 
individuals who claim to have been assigned some special 
mission by benevolent aliens— from other UFO reporters. 
Contactees, many of whom first announced themselves 
in the 1 950s, do not fit the pattern exhibited by other close- 
encounter witnesses: They 
usually recount a long se- 
ries of meetings or even 
voyages with quasi-angelic 
space beings who have 
chosen the contactees as 
their envoys on earth. 

Also in a separate cat- 
egory are abductees, who 
say they have been kid- 
napped and taken aboard 
alien spacecraft against 
their will. Most of the ab- 
ductees report having been 
subjected to bizarre exper- 
iments; almost all claim to 
have communicated tele- 
pathically with extraterres- 
trial beings. The full mem- 
ory of such experiences 
often seems to have been 
blocked from the person's 

4fe -• 


Police survey the sky overLevelland, Texas, in 
November 1957, hoping to spot a cigar-shaped 
UFO that has recently been sighted. Sightings 
by Levelland's citizens resulted in eight inde- 
pendent but strikingly similar reports. 

recall until it is unlocked by hypnosis (pages 57-63). 

Such stories of direct contact with aliens may have 
made up the most startling part of the growing body of UFO 
lore, but the majority of reports continued to involve unex- 
plained aerial events. Despite the efforts of the air force to 
downplay them, sightings of unidentified flying objects were 
recorded in increasing numbers into the late 1 960s. Some of 
the reports did, in fact, turn out to be transparent hoaxes and 
were quickly exposed. However, an impressive number of 
them came from such witnesses as air force combat pilots 
and reputable police officers. Their stories seem as baffling 
now as they were then. 

One such event was the high-speed aerial chase that 
took place between an air force jet and a UFO over the Amer- 
ican heartland in the summer of 1 957. Uf ologists consider the 
incident a prime example of a radar/visual sighting. 

During the early morning hours of July 1 7, a Boeing RB-47 
out of Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, flew over 
the Gulf of Mexico on a navigation exercise. It carried six 
officers and was loaded with electronic gear. There were 
few clouds and no thunderstorms in the sky as the jet re- 
connaissance bomber cruised at an altitude of 34,000 feet. 
All was calm until the RB-47 turned for home and crossed 
the coastline near Gulfport, Mississippi. Then, unusual things 
began to happen. 

The bomber's radar operator peered at his screen and 
spotted a blip that seemed to show something approaching 
from the right side of the aircraft. As the startled airman 
squinted at his equipment, the blip appeared to soar rapidly 
upward, then cross in front of the bomber before heading 
down the left side. It was almost as though some sort of craft 
was circling the RB-47. Shortly afterward, at 4: 10 a.m., both 
pilot and copilot were startled to see an intense bluish white 
light streaking toward them from their left, apparently on a 
collision course. Later, the pilot would recall that the object 
appeared to be "as big as a barn." Before he could react, the 
blinding light changed course and disappeared from view, 
but it continued to radiate strong signals that were picked up 

by the bomber's electronic intelligence gear for the next 
eight minutes or so. 

At 4:39, the pilot was again jolted by the appearance of 
a "huge" light about 5,000 feet below his flight path and just 
off to the right of the bomber's nose. Through the intercom 
the radarman reported new signals coming from the same 
location. The pilots then saw a glowing red object through the 
cockpit's bubble canopy. After receiving permission from 
ground controllers to give chase, the pilot nosed down, 
boosting his speed to about 550 miles per hour to pursue the 
bizarre light— which seemed to be accelerating away, 
^^^^^fe y this time the hurtling jet was ap- 

^^■Kjw^K^^ proaching Fort Worth, Texas, and a 

^^(^^^^ ground-radar operator was picking up 
m the strange object on his scope. Then, 
at 4:50, the speeding UFO seemed to 
make an abrupt stop in the sky. The RB-47 roared past, only 
to have its quarry in sight again two minutes later, when the 
light suddenly plunged to about 15,000 feet. Once more the 
air force pilot lost the capricious object, but found it six min- 
utes later, twenty miles northwest of Fort Worth. 

Finally, at 5:40, when the bomber was near Oklahoma 
City, the elusive light vanished and its signal faded away. 
Still mystified, the pilot flew back to land at Forbes. His cat- 
and-mouse game had covered as many as 700 miles of sky 
across four states. 

The director of intelligence of the Fifty-fifth Strategic 
Reconnaissance Wing studied the episode and wrote that he 
"had no doubt the electronic D/F's [direction findings] co- 
incided exactly with visual observations by aircraft com- 
mander numerous times, thus indicating positively the object 
being the signal source." Of course, that report left unan- 
swered the question of just what the object might have been; 
other air force investigators, apparently seeking to downplay 
the significance of the darting light, concluded that it was a 
commercial airliner— leading some to wryly observe that the 
unsuspecting passengers on board the plane must have had 
the ride of their lives. 

If the air force was hoping to throw cold water on the 


Although no scientifically confirmed photographs of 
aliens are known to exist, there are many sketches. 
The creatures on these two pages were drawn either 
by people reporting alien encounters or by artists 
sketching from the witnesses' accounts. 

subject of unidentified flying objects, it was thwarted 
by cirumstances beyond its control. Reports contin- 
ued to pour in through the rest of 1957, and not all 
of them involved objects that were as distant and 
elusive as the one spotted by the RB-47 crew. In- 
deed, before the year was out, several excited ob- 
servers in the vicinity of Levelland, Texas, would 
describe one of the most impressive UFO events ever. 

It began shortly before 1 1 p.m. on November 2, 
when patrolman A. J. Fowler of the Levelland po- / 
lice department received a bizarre telephone call. 
As a veteran police officer, Fowler had heard many 
strange stories, but none like the one told by a 
local farmhand named Pedro Saucedo. 
Saucedo and a friend, Joe Salaz, had been in the 

cab of Saucedo's truck, driving 
along Route 1 1 6 a few miles 
west of town, when they saw a bright 
flash of light in a field flanking the road. 
"Then it rose out of the field," Saucedo 
would recall later, "and started toward 
us, picking up speed , The lights of my truck 
went out and the motor died. I jumped out 
and- hit the deck as the thing passed di- 
rectly over the truck with a great sound 
and a rush of wind. It sounded like 
thunder, and my truck rocked from 
the blast. I felt a lot of heat." Sau- 
cedo watched the accelerating 
craft, a machine he described as 
"torpedo-shaped, like a rocket" 
and about 200 feet long, as it 
whipped through the late-night mist. 
When the strange object moved away 
from the men, the truck lights 
snapped back on, and the 

Some say the description of 

this fetuslike creature came farmhand was able to restart 

fiom a doctor who performed the engine and drive t0 the 
an autopsy on its body during ° 

the early 1950s. nearest telephone. Fowler dis- 

missed the call, believing that it had come from a drunk, but 
an hour later his phone rang again. This time the caller was 
a motorist by the name of Jim Wheeler, who reported that 
a glowing, 200-foot-long, egg-shaped object had blocked 
the road in front of him four miles east of town. Wheeler's 
engine and headlights had mysteriously failed. The driver 

Short but fearsome, the 
beings who supposedly eluded 
the Sut tons' shotgun attack 
in the 1955 Kentucky incident 
were said to look like this. 


watched, dumbfounded, as the craft rose from 
the highway and continued its low-level flight. 
Once it had passed out of sight, Wheeler's au- 
tomobile lights came back on by themselves. 
Within five minutes of Wheeler's call, another 
report was phoned in, this one from the hamlet of 
Whitharral, located eleven miles north of Levelland. 
Jose Alvarez told Fowler of seeing what sounded 
like the same glowing egg-shaped aircraft that had 
been described by Wheeler only moments earlier, 
and with the same results. 

Next to sight the UFO was nineteen-year-old 
Newell Wright, a freshman at Texas Tech University 
in nearby Lubbock. Wright was driving down the 
highway when his car engine quit and the head- 
lights blinked out as though the battery cables had 
suddenly been disconnected. When Wright got 
out to inspect under the hood, he chanced to 
look up the road and saw the craft astride the 
highway. It was five minutes past midnight, 
and Wright was nine miles north of Lev- 
elland. He gaped at the huge object glowing bluish-green 
from what Wright assumed was an aluminum hull. Diving 
back inside the car, he frantically turned the ignition key, but 
to no avail. A few minutes later, the strange craft rose "almost 
straight up" and vanished. Wright started the engine and 
sped away. At first he was hesitant about reporting the in- 
cident "for fear of public ridicule," as he explained later. 

The calls kept flooding in. Fowler alerted 
1 t the sheriff, Weir Clem, who picked up his dep- 
uty, Pat McCulloch, and set off in search of 
the object, or objects, that were terrorizing 
motorists in the flat country around Lev- 
elland. The two men cruised the high- 
ways and farm roads around Levelland 
for more than an hour. Then, at 1 :30 
that morning, a few miles north of town, 
they joined the growing number of wit- 
nesses to the eerie phenomenon. About 
300 yards ahead of them appeared "an 
oval-shaped light looking like a brilliant red 
sunset across the highway." The sighting was 
verified by a pair of police officers in a patrol 
car a few miles behind Clem's. Both men re- 
ported "a strange-looking flash [that] ap- 
peared to be close to the ground." The final 
sighting of that memorable night was made 

In 1975, an English girl drew this "space- 
woman " who, she said, visited her home. 


at 2:00 by another law enforcement officer, 
Lloyd Ballen, who saw an object traveling in the 
darkened sky "so fast it looked like a flash of 
light moving from east to west." Within three 
hours, a dozen people had seen 
what appeared to be the same huge 
UFO, and another three reported 
an unexplained flash of light, all 
within a ten-mile radius of 
this northern Texas town. 
The sightings were made inde- 
pendently and were called in indepen- 
dently. Except for the police officers, the 
witnesses did not know each other, and 
the non-police sightings occurred while 
each of the witnesses was bound for 
some destination and not because they 
were consciously on the lookout for 
unidentified flying objects. The night 
was much too overcast for amateur sky 
watching, in any event. 
Word of the Levelland lights made 
headlines in the nation's major newspapers 
(competing with the news that the USSR had 
put Sputnik 11 into orbit). Although the U.S. Air 
Force agreed to investigate the 
3 sensational series of sight- 
ings, it sent only 
one officer to the 
scene— and he spent less than twenty-four hours 
in the area and talked to just six of the fifteen 
witnesses. The air force subsequently put out a press 
release explaining the sightings as a "weather 
phenomenon of electrical nature, generally 
classified as ball lightning or Saint Elmo's fire, 
caused by stormy conditions in the area, in- 
cluding mist, rain, thunderstorms and light- 
ning." The mysterious failures that oc- 
curred in the electrical systems of all of 
the witnesses' vehicles were caused, 
according to the investigators, by "wet electrical circuits." 

But, as many would point out, there were no thun- 
derstorms or lightning in the area on the 
night of the sightings. Ball lightning has 
never been known to reach 200 feet in 
diameter nor to sit on a public highway and take 
off like a rocket, nor can it cause capricious fail- 
ure of a vehicle's wiring. Whatever the air force's 
findings, UFO experts consider the Levelland 

A 1973 case in Pascagoula, 
Mississippi, involved this 
wrinkled creature. 

It had now been a full ten years since Kenneth 
Arnold had spotted silvery vehicles zooming 
over the Cascade Mountains, and opinion con- 
tinued to be marshaled along what could only 
be called pro- UFO and anti-UFO lines. In 1956 a 
new group had joined the Aerial Phenomena Re- 
search Organization and the less well-known Civil- 
ian Saucer Investigation in their fight to 
bring legitimacy to UFO investigation. 
This fledgling organization, which was 
known as N1CAP, for National Investi- 
gations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, was 
founded by T. Townsend Brown, a former na- 
vy scientist, and its growing membership 
included a number of individuals who pos- 
sessed unimpeachable credentials. 

Among them were Rear Admiral Del- 
mer S. Fahrney, former head of the U.S. 
Navy's guided missile program, two other 
retired admirals (including the first head of 
the CIA, R. H. Hillenkoetter); a retired 
three-star Marine Corps general; a phys- 
ics professor; a professor of reli- 
gion; two ministers; the noted 
radio and television commenta- 
tor Frank Edwards; 
and eventually sen- 

a t O r B a rry Gold- land and disgorge three 

. aliens, each three inches tall. 

water, who was a 

reserve air force pilot. The most outspoken of the 
members was feisty Donald E. Keyhoe, a retired 
Marine Corps officer, who became the cru- 
sading head of the committee. When 
APRO, CSI, and NICAP entered the 
arena, the air force was the only gov- 
ernment agency investigating the UFO phenome- 
non. But its policy of downplaying sightings and its 
refusal to release its findings on grounds of national 
security left the public little better informed than 
it had been when the sightings began ten years 
earlier. Keyhoe believed that much of the gov- 
vaguefy resembling a carrot, ernment was in league with the air force to 
this seven-foot-tall alien sup- k eep the lid on UFO findings. As early as 

posedly appeared to a witness 

in west Virginia in 1968. 1954, he wrote: "Actually, the Air Force is 


not the only agency involved; the CIA, National Security 
Council, FBI, Civil Defense, all are tied in at top levels. The 
White House, of course, will have the final word as to what 
people are told and when." 

Keyhoe took aim at the air force for its policy of secrecy, 
pointing to, as examples, Regulation 200-2, part of which 
prohibited release of UFO reports to the public, and Joint 
Army-Navy-Air Force Publication QANAP) 146, which stipu- 
lated that public disclosure of any UFO sighting described on 
its pages was a criminal offense. He began to agitate for open 
congressional hearings on the whole subject of unidentified 
flying objects and air force secrecy. 

rom the air force point of view, the time 
spent looking into UFO sightings was 
largely wasted and could have been better 
spent on the current cold war mission of 
monitoring the Soviet Union. Its research 

had turned up very little evidence for alien spaceships. In- 
stead, air force investigators assumed that the flood of saucer 
sightings was the result of what was called Buck Rogers 
trauma, a phenomenon occasioned by the rapid advance of 
technology, unrelenting political tension, and such current 
science-fiction film fare as the popular War of the Worlds. 

The lid refused to stay down on the simmering UFO 
controversy, however, and more close-encounter stories 
bubbled up after the bizarre events in Kentucky and Texas. 
Nor were these events confined to the North American con- 
tinent, as became evident in 1959. 

Nine thousand miles from the controversy in Washington, 
D.C., the island of New Guinea was undergoing its own wave 
of UFO sightings— more than sixty in all during ninety days of 
that southern-hemisphere winter. One of the most spectac- 
ular close-encounter stories came from the Reverend William 
Booth Gill, an Anglican priest, whose parish was in the ter- 
ritory of Papua on the Australian-controlled island. 

It was about 6:45 on the evening of June 26, Gill later 
reported, and he had just stepped out of the mission house 
after finishing dinner. He looked up in the sky and "saw this 

sparkling object, which to me was peculiar because it spar- 
kled, and because it was very, very bright, and it was above 
Venus, and so that caused me to watch it for awhile; then I 
saw it descend toward us." A mission teacher, Stephen Moi, 
joined Father Gill, and to get some idea of the size of the 
approaching object he put his arm straight out with his fist 
closed, observing that his fist covered "about half of the ob- 
ject." The two missionaries were soon joined by about thirty 
parishioners, all gazing at the astonishing sight, which was 
about to become more astonishing still. 

Gill recorded that "men came out from this object and 
appeared on top of it, on what seemed to be a deck on top of 
the huge disk. There were four men in all, occasionally two, 
then one, then three, then four. . . . They seemed to be illu- 
minated in two ways: by reflected light, as men seen working 
high up on a building at night caught by the glare of an 
oxyacetylene torch, and by this curious halo which outlined 
them, following every contour of their bodies." 

At 8:29, nearly two hours into the sighting, a second and 
apparently smaller disk appeared over the ocean, and a third 
over nearby Wadabuna Village. The larger UFO, which Gill 
called the mother ship, was hovering overhead in the now- 
cloudy, now-clearing sky. The breathtaking spectacle held 
the attention of the viewers for another two and a half hours 
until 1 1 :04 p.m., when a heavy Pacific rain began to fall, shut- 
ting down the aerial display. 

The phenomenon returned at 6:00 on the following 
evening. The sun had just set, but the sky was still light. Once 
again the figures appeared on the upper deck of the spheroid. 
Father Gill, in a most human gesture, raised his arm and 
waved at the creatures atop the saucer. To his surprise, he 
reported, the four aliens responded by waving back. Later, 
when the sky turned dark, Gill sent for a flashlight and began 
signaling the craft with a series of long flashes. After a minute 
or two, the saucer "wavered back and forth like a pendu- 
lum" —which the witnesses interpreted as a friendly response 
to the signals from below. Two smaller saucers hovered over- 
head but did not respond to the flashlight beams. 

The close encounters on that second night ended, ac- 

Moviegoers can readily imagine the 
sense of displacement Dorothy must 
have felt when she was whisked out of 
Kansas and transported to the mysteri- 
ous Land of Oz (above). That feeling, 
says British ufologist Jenny Randies, 
may resemble the perceptions experi- 
enced by people who encounter— or at 
least believe they encounter— unidenti- 
fied flying objects. 

Randies says her studies show that 
many UFO witnesses experience what 
she calls the Oz factor, "a sense of 
timelessness and sensory isolation" in 
which "the witness feels the UFO has 
temporarily sucked him into a kind of 

void where only he and the phenome- 
non coexist." This might occur, she 
speculates, when a person who is in a 
state of consciousness below normal 
waking reality interprets some natural 
condition, object, or event— a bright 
planet, for instance— as being preter- 
natural in origin. 

Randies further theorizes that in 
some rare cases the witness's subjec- 
tive impression is strong enough to 
manipulate objective reality. In other 
words, a person who is caught in the 
grip of the Oz factor may actually be 
able to photograph something that he 
or she sees, even though it does not, 

in a completely objective sense, exist. 

Randles's theory— which is dismissed 
by most other researchers— does not 
rule out alien contact. On the contrary, 
the theory posits it as a possible 
source of the bizarre events that wit- 
nesses believe they experience. It may 
be, she says, that outworlders are con- 
tacting humans through consciousness 
alone rather than with sophisticated 
technology. These alien beings are 
somehow able to induce a subjectively 
real incidence of an encounter. If this 
is so, a particularly sensitive person 
might serve as a sort of radio receiver 
of cosmic messages. 


In the debris of an alleged 1948 UFO crash in Mexico lie charred remains 
of an alien called Tomato Man by ufologists who doubt his extraterrestrial origins. 
They point to the very earthly glasses near him. 

cording to Father Gill's log, at 7:45. "Evensong over," he 
wrote, "and sky covered with cloud. Visibility very poor. No 
UFOs in sight." The sightings had ceased, but the controversy 
was just beginning. 

Gill and twenty-four other witnesses signed a state- 
ment attesting to what they had seen. The Royal Australian 
Air Force countered with a more naturalistic explanation: 
"An analysis of bearings and angles above the horizon," it 
reported, "does suggest that at least three of the lights 
were planets, e.g., Jupiter, Saturn and Mars." However, UFO 

proponents point out in response that none of these planets 
is anywhere near large enough to cover half of a closed fist, 
nor does any slide back and forth on its axis in response to 
signals from the earth. 

Investigator J. Allen Hynek later said that he found it 
difficult to believe that a well-educated Anglican priest such 
as Gill would fabricate the fantastic tale out of sheer intent to 
deceive. Indeed, Father Gill never made any attempt to con- 
vert his UFO encounter into cash, and he read no religious 
significance into it; he merely reported what he and the others 


there believed they had 
seen in the night skies. 

Five years later, an- 
other tantalizing report of 
close-up sightings of hu- 
manoids emerged, this time 
from Socorro, New Mexico. 
The incident had begun at 
about 5:45 p.m. on April 24, 
1964. On that spring eve- 
ning, police officer Lon- 
nie Zamora was in hot pur- 
suit of a speeding car 
through the desert outside 
of Socorro when, as he later 
reported, he was jolted off 
the road by a sudden roar 
and a burst of blue-orange 
flame. Thinking that a near- 
by dynamite storage shack 
had blown up, Zamora 
bounced across the rugged 
terrain and stopped his pa- 
trol car at a gully, where he 
spotted an egg-shaped ob- 
ject squatting on the ground. Next to it he saw two figures 
who appeared to be wearing white coveralls. One of them 
"seemed to turn and look straight at my car and seemed 
startled— seemed to jump quickly somewhat." Thinking the 
vehicle might be an overturned automobile, Zamora in- 
formed the sheriff over his radio that that he was going to 
investigate an accident. 

Hardly had he left his car, however, when he heard a 
loud blast. The shiny craft, ablaze underneath, started to lift 
off the ground. Fearing that the thing might explode, Zamora 
turned and ran to take cover behind his car, while the UFO 
continued to rise with an eerie whining and roaring. As it 
moved, Zamora noted some kind of red insignia about two 
feet square displayed on the side of the hull. "It appeared to 

Onlookers await results as alleged contactee 
Daniel W. Fry tries to reach aliens with a multiple frequency radio 
device he built in the 1 950s. It could send but not receive. 

go in straight line and at 
same height— possibly 10 
to 15 feet from the ground, 
and it cleared the dyna- 
mite shack by about three 
feet. . . . Object was travel- 
ing very fast. It seemed to 
rise up, and take off imme- 
diately across country." 

New Mexico state 
trooper M. S. Chavez ar- 
rived on the scene shortly 
afterward, and he and Za- 
mora discovered indenta- 
tions in the earth and still- 
burning brush where the 
mysterious craft had appar- 
ently taken off. The place 
was soon crowded with in- 
vestigators, who were mea- 
suring and documenting 
what they found. Four 
squarish imprints arranged 
in a trapezoidal pattern 

were assumed to be the 

marks of landing legs. Several smaller, shallow, circular in- 
dentations may have been the footprints of the beings in 
white coveralls. 

Hynek personally investigated this encounter. He inter- 
viewed Zamora and confirmed the burned areas and the de- 
pressions. When he was finished, Hynek concluded that the 
report was one of the "major UFO sightings in the history of 
the air force's consideration of the subject." The air force 
reluctantly carried the Zamora sighting as "unidentified"— 
the only combination landing, trace, and occupant case listed 
as such in Blue Book files. 

Plausible-sounding incidents such as the Gill and Za- 
mora sightings made the air force's attitude seem unneces- 
sarily harsh. However, the official stance was more under- 


standable in the context of the many hoaxes and woolly 
claims that garnered publicity in the 1950s and 1960s. Be- 
tween 1952 and 1956 alone, 3,712 UFO incidents were re- 
ported, but the general population had no way of separating 
fact from fantasy. Mixed in with well-documented reports 
were stories of alien encounters so unlikely that they gener- 
ally cast a lurid light over the whole field. Such questionable 
tales may say more about public attitudes toward UFOs than 
they do about UFOs themselves. 

One type of story that sprang up immediately following 
the Kenneth Arnold sightings was the saucer-crash/ 
purloined-alien tale. Perhaps the most persistent of such re- 
ports grew out of the alleged crash of an unidentified flying 
object in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 (pages 39-40). Some 
years afterward, a civil engineer named Grady Landon ("Bar- 
ney") Bamett began telling his friends that on the day after the 
crash, he had noticed sunlight glinting from metal that was 
sitting motionless on the desert floor, 250 miles from Roswell. 
Thinking that it might be the wreckage of an aircraft, Bamett 
hurried to the site, where he was soon joined by some ar- 
chaeology students who had been working in the area. To- 
gether, he related, they gazed at a startling and grisly still life 
baking in the morning sun. 

The craft, described as oval and about thirty feet across, 
was split open like a ripe melon. Dead bodies littered the 

ground; others were still in the craft. But the bodies were 
unlike any that Bamett and his companions had ever seen: 
hairless, with tiny eyes and huge heads, wearing one-piece 
gray coveralls with no belts or zippers. According to Bamett's 
friends, who spoke publicly of the incident after his death, a 
detail of soldiers arrived, cordoned off the area, told the ci- 
vilians it was "their patriotic duty" not to mention the inci- 
dent, and sent them away. What happened to the wrecked 
saucer and the remains of the aliens? Bamett reportedly told 
friends the U.S. Army took everything away in a truck. Thirty- 
three years after the event, authors Charles Berlitz and Wil- 


At lower left, television talk show host Long 
John Nebel holds a picture of alleged alien 
spacecraft while George Adamski relates his 
strange tale of friendly visitors from Venus. 
Among the first to claim contact with extrater- 
restrials, Adamski displayed these photo- 
graphs, which, he said, showed a Venusian 
mother ship and smaller scout vessels. 

liam Moore published a book on the subject, disclosing the 
alleged testimony of Bamett and others, and claiming that the 
carefully preserved bodies remained stored in a CIA ware- 
house in Langley, Virginia. Pronouncements of a government 
cover-up of this event continued to make the news well into 
the late 1980s— but attempts by investigators to find con- 

vincing evidence or witnesses for the story have not been 
fruitful so far. 

Publicity about the Roswell incident seemed to spawn 
similar reports. According to one such story, which began sur- 
facing in certain UFO enthusiast circles in late 1 978, a saucer- 
like craft had crash-landed in Mexico, about thirty miles from 
the Texas border, on July 7, 1948. Discovered in the wreckage 
was the charred body of an alien pilot. The debris from the 
accident was carted away by Mexican and American military 
units, but not before a young U.S. Navy photographer had 
taken numerous shots of the dead extraterrestrial. Supposedly, 
the photographer kept some of the negatives and decided thirty 
years after the event to make the pictures public— although he 
himself chose to remain anonymous. Most serious ufologists 
dismiss this account and the photographs as parts of a hoax; 
some theorize that the figure shown in the pictures (page 72) 
may actually be the burned body of a human pilot killed in a 
light-plane crash. 

Errant saucer pilots apparently did not exclude the rest 
of the world when it came to disastrous landings. One crash 
was reported in the cold, rocky terrain of Spitsbergen, a group 
of arctic islands more than 500 miles to the north of Norway. 
Another space vehicle was said to have smashed into the 
earth in Poland, and its humanoid pilot was allegedly pulled 
from the wreckage still alive. The story claimed that the alien 
was rushed to a hospital, where doctors struggled to remove 
its metal flight suit, but when they succeeded in removing an 
armband, the alien expired. The body was purportedly 
shipped to the USSR. 

Serious UFO investigators discount most such stories, 
which usually rely on hearsay rather than documented eye- 
witness accounts and whose scanty evidence is frequently 
shown to have been fabricated. However, many enthusiasts 
maintain to this day that not only are such reports true, but 
also the government, fearing widespread public panic, is hid- 
ing the facts about UFOs. 

If the government indeed succeeded in obscuring the 
truth about physical evidence of alien craft and crews, it was 
not able to stem the increasing reports of alien creatures who 
were very much alive. These beings were said to seek out 
quite ordinary men and women and to choose them as their 
representatives, enjoining them to spread a kind of cosmic 
gospel among their fellow humans. The contactees told a 

different kind of story from the relatively coherent close- 
encounter reports typified by the Zamora or Sutton cases. 
Their tales involved mystical meetings with saintly extrater- 
restrials and were generally contradictory, unscientific, and 
messianic. Few uf ologists gave credence to contactees, but in 
spite of, or perhaps because of, this, such people often be- 
came cult figures. They wrote popular books about their ex- 
periences and appeared on radio and television talk shows 
beginning in the 1950s and continuing, although to a dimin- 
ished degree, through to the present. 

One of the first of the widely known contactees was a 
man by the name of George Adamski, an uneducated Polish 
immigrant who worked as a handyman for a small roadside 
restaurant near Mount Palomar in California. (Palomar, of 
course, is the home of the 200-inch telescope that has been 
probing the galaxies since 1948.) Adamski, a former caval- 
ryman with the U.S. Army and a self-styled professor of ori- 
ental mysticism, claimed to have seen his first spacecraft in 
1 946. The next year, he said, he observed a large fleet of them, 
1 84 in all, flying in neat squadrons of thirty or so each. But it 
was on November 20, 1 952, when Adamski was sixty-one 
years old, that he struck extraterrestrial pay dirt. 

ccording to Adamski, he and six friends 
were driving near Desert Center, Cali- 
fornia, when they spotted a cigar- 
shaped craft settling gently down on 
the earth about a mile from the road. 
Grabbing a pair of cameras, Adamski 
dashed off to investigate the spectacle and was soon greeted 
by an alien with shoulder-length blond hair wearing a kind of 
belted ski suit. Through telepathy and sign language, 
Adamski learned that the visitor was called Orthon and that 
he had journeyed from Venus in an attempt to get the squab- 
bling nations of Earth to stop their testing of atomic weapons. 
The radiation, Orthon informed him, was interfering with the 
delicate ecological balance of the other planets in the solar 
system. The Venusian traveler told Adamski it was permis- 
sible to take pictures of his spacecraft but declined to be 
photographed himself, since he wished to remain incognito. 

Then Orthon reboarded the metal cigar and zoomed off into 
space, while Adamski worked his cameras furiously. 

Adamski noticed that Orthon's footprints remained in 
the sand. His friends just happened to have a supply of water 
and plaster of paris handy, and they made plaster casts for 
later study— though they were never able to decipher the 
hieroglyphics embedded in the Venusian shoe soles. 
Adamski's luck with his photographs of the departing space- 
craft was not much better: They turned out as generally un- 
recognizable blurs. 

At least in part because his evidence was skimpy, 
Adamski made no headway in bringing the practice of atomic 
weapons testing to a halt. His desert encounter with Orthon 
was only the beginning of his UFO odyssey, and he was soon 
making a comfortable living from lectures and books de- 
scribing his fantastic voyages aboard spacecraft arriving from 
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus. On one of these interplan- 
etaryexcursions, Adamski said, his alien hosts flew him to the 
far side of the moon, where he gazed upon "cities, forests, 
lakes, snow-capped mountains, . . . even people strolling 
along the sidewalks." In 1959, when the Russians released 
satellite photographs of the far side of the moon that revealed 
its utterly barren, cratered face, Adamski had a ready rejoin- 
der: The wily Soviets, he huffed, had retouched the prints "in 
order to deceive the United States." 

Despite the obvious holes in Adamski's imaginative 
claims, he gained not only followers but imitators throughout 
the 1950s. Truman Bethurum, a fifty-six-year-old asphalt 
worker, entered the arena in 1954 with the publication of a 
book detailing his experiences with extraterrestrials. It all 
began, he said, with an encounter in the Mojave Desert. Be- 
thurum was invited aboard a flying saucer that had been 
parked on the burning sands by eight, nine, or ten little men 
who introduced the dazed worker to their captain, a gor- 
geous female named Aura Rhanes who hailed from the planet 
Clarion. Clarion? Bethurum had never heard of it. Of course 
he had not— Clarion was unknown to earthly astronomers, 
the visitor explained, because "its orbit always placed it di- 
rectly behind the sun." 


The visit reportedly came in 1976 
whilt nr Herbert Hopkins was work- 
ing as a consulting hypnotist on an 
□licked UFO abduction case in Maine 
One night when he was home alone, 
the physician sakJ. he got a telephone 
call from a man whoct aimed U * rep 
resent a New Jersey UFO research 
group (Hopkins would later dis 
cover that the group did not ex- 
ist ) The caller asked lo sec 
1 1< ipkins in order lo discuss Lhe 
abduction case with him. and 
the doctor assented He 
would Later reflect upon 
how odd it was that he 
had so readily agreed to 
Share the matter 

At the lime, however 
Hopkins did not even 
find it (Kid that an extra- 
ordinary visitor was on his 
J<korstep only seconds after 
the phone call ended The man 
was hairless -bald, and without 
eyebrows or eyelashes He wore a 
black suit a black lie and a gleaming 
white shirt -all immaculate and pre- 
cisely pressed "I thought, he looks like 
an undertaker." Hopkins said later 
The man also had a dead white face 
and wore what appeared lobe lipstick 

Apparently put off by none of this, 
the doctor sat with the stranger and 
talked about the details of the case for 
some time Eventually. Hopkins no- 
ticed that the man's speech seemed to 
be slowing and lhat his movements 
were unsteady as he rose to leave. 
His cryptic parting words lohis host 
were. My energy is running low 
Must go now Goodbye." Only after 
hts guest had staggered off did Hop- 
kins find himself shaken, cognizant 
at last ot the incidental strangeness 

Despite certain anomalies, the mys- 
terious visitor was not untypical of 
the fabled Men in Black, or MIR, as 
they arc known- beings, outwardly 
human ycl plainly not human, who are 
said to emerge as threatening presenc- 
es in the lives of UFO witnesses or re- 
st archers Since lhe late 1950s, MIH 

have become a curious adjunct of 
some UFO sightings and have attained 
near-mythic status in their own right. 

Researchers have investigated more 
than thirty alleged M1B visits In detail. 
White some involve pale creatures 
such as the one Hopkins described, the 
Mth are more usually depicted as dark- 
skinned and somehow foreign looking, 
often with slanted eyes. Although ihey 
sometimes appear singly, they usually 
travel in threes Many are said to 
show surprise and puzzlement at 
such mundane items as ballpoint 
pens and eating uienstls Nearly all 
have in common their somber at- 
tire of dauntingly neat black suits, 
black lies, and white shirts 

Some reportedly speak with 
peculiar accents, and their Ian- 
guagc is either excessively for- 
mal or prone to the jarring slane, 
of dated Hollywood B movies 
('Look, boy. if you value your life 
and your family's too, don't talk 
any more about this siyhung of 
yours, a UFO witness quotes one 
of the Men in Black as saying i 

As reports have n. M1B person- 
alities lend to be robotic, they 
usually seem neither warm nor 
malign. Nevertheless, ihey appear 
menacing. Some, such as the 
one who supposedly visited Dr 
Hopkins, instill fear merely 
by their presence Others sup- 
posedly intimidate their vic- 
tims with threats of bodily 
harm, although there has nev- 
er been a report of any MlB re- 
sorting to violence In all cases, 
Iht MIH mission seems to be to dis- 
suade people from talking about UFO 
experiences or seeking information 
about them An early and persistent 
theory about the Men in Black was 
lhat they were government agents who 
were bent i n obscunng truths about 
UFOs That notion gradually lost cur- 
rency, however -probably because the 
eccentricities of the MlB outstripped all 
but the m<*st paranoid imaginings 
about nefarious federal conspiracies. 
Most present thinking is that either the 
encounters with MlB are illusions con- 
jured by persons shaken by real or 
imagined encounters with UFOs, or 
they are hoaxes. 


The laborer listened in wonder- 
ment as the skipper described the 
idyllic life lived by the Clarionites on 
their own planet. Why, then, he 
asked, would they want to visit Earth, 
with all its problems? Because, she 
explained, the Clarionites wished to 
reaffirm the values of marriage, fam- 
ily, and fidelity in the face of the 
"dreadful paganism" that was loose 
in the land. Like Orthon before her, 
Captain Rhanes greatly feared the 
possibility of atomic warfare, which would certainly create 
considerable confusion, as she put it, in outer space. 

Bethurum was entranced by the visitors, finding them 
"very religious, understanding, kind, friendly and . . . trust- 
ing." By his own count, Bethurum met with his new friends 
on eleven separate occasions before they returned to their 
paradise somewhere behind the sun. George Adamski was 
one of the few to believe in Bethurum's tale, and he urged the 
contactee to rush into print with his story, which Bethurum 
subsequently titled Aboard a Flying Saucer. 

With contactees and believers in extraterrestrial visitors 
proliferating, there arose a need on the part of these people 
for a gathering place, a need that was met by another con- 
tactee named George Van Tassel. During 1954 the forty-four- 
year-old Van Tassel was managing Giant Rock Airport in 
California's Mojave Desert north of Yucca Valley, and it was 
here that he began to construct a four-story-high domed ma- 
chine he called the Integratron. Its purpose, he explained, 
was to "rejuvenate the old and prevent aging of the young." 
The intricate engineering design, which included an electro- 
static armature fifty-five feet in diameter, was dictated to Van 
Tassel by the so-called Space People with whom he claimed 
to be in constant contact. 

Van Tassel had twice been aboard alien craft as a guest, 
he said, and once had been whirled aloft to meet the Council 
of Seven Lights, which comprised former earthlings who 
were now living in a spaceship that was perpetually orbiting 

U nanus leader Ruth Norman, also 
known as Uriel, shows an artist's rendering of the 
benign space fleet that, followers 
believe, will help solve the earth's problems. 

the earth. When he hosted the first of 
the annual Giant Rock Space Con- 
ventions in the spring of 1954, more 
than 5,000 devotees appeared. Dur- 
ing the day they listened to a nonstop 
series of speakers, and during the 
night they waited hopefully— and fu- 
tilely— for the majestic sight of uni- 
dentified flying objects gliding across 
the sky to honor those gathered be- 
low. The conventions were attended 
by most of the well-known contac- 
tees, including Adamski and Bethurum, and resembled the 
religious camp meetings of the 1920s and 1930s. 

Van Tassel enjoyed a long run with his new career as 
intermediary with the Space People. He died in 1970 after 
guest appearances on 409 radio and television programs, 
after writing five books on his out-of -this- world experiences, 
and after delivering 297 lectures in the United States and 
Canada. But to his great disappointment, no alien ever 
showed up at one of his space conventions— which ceased at 
his death— and the Integratron was never completed. 

Still flourishing is the contactee cult called the Aetherius 
Society, founded in 1956 by George King, a former taxi driver, 
in London. King, who had an interest in Eastern mysticism, 
was sitting in a trancelike state one day when he allegedly 
received messages from extraterrestrial beings. Through 
them he learned, he said, that Jesus and several saints were 
alive and living on Venus. 

King and the members of his society believe in "thought 
power" and "prayer power." They have built metal and 
wooden cosmic batteries, which are charged by the extended 
hands and prayers of the members. Because the batteries are 
said to work most effectively from mountains, Aetherians 
have trekked with their singular apparatus to several up- 
lands, including Mount Kilimanjaro. They claim that their 
batteries have exerted a power for good in the world and have 
averted many catastrophes. 

Even more flamboyant than the Aetherius Society is the 


UFO-inspired Unarius Foundation, which is administered 
outside of San Diego, California, by self -described cosmic 
visionary Ruth Norman. Norman, also known by the name 
Uriel, claims that she has received transmissions from su- 
percelestial beings and to have traveled to as many as sixty 
planets. Through her teachings, Norman says, earthbound 
humans can reach a higher spiritual plane, preferably in time 
to greet the thirty-three starships of the Interplanetary Con- 
federation when they land in San Diego in the year 2001. 

Bizarre as such 
claims may seem to 
the skeptical eye, they 
do reflect the social 
dimensions of belief 
in interplanetary 
UFOs. For the many 
followers of contact 
ees, alien visitors ap- 
parently represent a 
last hope for a fail- 
ing world. It is prob- 
ably no coincidence 
that these stories 
first came to light in 
the 1950s, when 
society was preoc- 
cupied with the 
threat of the atom- 
ic bomb— nor, per- 


tS.-j^-d.. j , |f] f^f^ 


1 H"l~ll 


* EM*!*!*** twwii m 

haps, is it strange that such tales continue today. 

More sinister than the contactee stories— and some- 
what more respectable in the eyes of many investigators —are 
the tales of alien abduction and experimentation that began 
to spread during the 1 960s. Possibly the most famous abduc- 
tion tale of all was the one told by Betty Hill, age forty-one, 
and her thirty-nine-year-old husband, Barney. 

The Hills' story began on the night of September 19, 
1961, as the two were returning to their Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire, home from a vacation in Canada. While their car 
was traveling along U.S. Route 3, the couple no- 
ticed a bright, star- 

like object moving 
through the south- 
western sky. Barney 
Hill stopped the car 
| several times so his 
wife could gaze at the 
object through 7 x 50 
binoculars. He thought 
it was a small airplane 
until it changed course 
and curved toward 
them. They were a little 
more than two miles 
from North Woodstock 
when the UFO slid 
around i n front o f the car 
and hovered to the right 


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Allegedly prompted by alien 
supporters, Gabriel Green ran 
for president in 1960 and 
1972. He also ran for the US. 
Senate in California during 
1962, garnering more than 
1 71,000 votes. Founder- 
president of the California- 
based Amalgamated Flying 
Saucer Clubs of America, Inc., 
Green claimed both personal 
meetings and telepathic links 
with friendly extraterrestrials. 

On Wimbledon Common, members of the Aetherius Society chant 
to charge a prayer battery with spiritual energy. Aetherians believe a 
so-called interplanetary parliament directs this energy toward 
averting catastrophes. Some have made journeys to place the batter- 
ies on mountaintops, where they are said to work best. 


of the highway "eight or ten 
stories" (as the husband esti- 
mated) above the ground. 

Bamey Hill took the bin- 
oculars from his wife and 
stepped out onto the deserted 
highway for a closer look. The 
saucer-shaped UFO silently 
shifted to the left and ap- 
proached the stopped car head 
on. Then Bamey Hill got an 
enormous shock: Through the 
binoculars he could make out 
lit portholes along the side of 
the craft, and behind the port- 
holes he could see the illumi- 
nated interior where from five 
to eleven humanlike figures 
were busily working. To Hill, the humanoids appeared to be 
wearing some kind of shiny black uniforms with billed caps. 
Their movements reminded him of German soldiers execut- 
ing a military drill. From inside the car, Betty Hill could hear 
her husband exclaiming, "I don't believe it! I don't believe it! 
This is ridiculous!" 

The Hills claimed that the craft came so close to them 
that it filled the field of view of the binoculars. Bamey dashed 
back to the waiting car in a state of hysteria, as his wife 
remembered, and they took off down the highway. As they 
drove, a series of inexplicable beeps seemed to come from the 
trunk, sounds that caused the car to vibrate. The couple made 
it home without further incident, but those few minutes of 
fright and excitement were to haunt them for years. 

Betty Hill began to dream nightly of a terrifying UFO 
experience. Barney Hill suffered from apprehension, insom- 
nia, and a worsening of his duodenal ulcer. In reliving the 
incident in his own mind, Hill was disturbed when he realized 
that he was unable to account for more than two hours be- 
tween the time they first encountered the UFO and the time 
they reached home. Where had the seemingly missing time 

gone? What had happened? 

As their anxieties grew, 
the Hills decided to get medi- 
cal help. A local doctor recom- 
mended that they consult a 
prominent Boston psychia- 
trist, Dr. Benjamin Simon, to 
see if hypnotic regression 
could unravel the mystery sur- 
rounding the night of Septem- 
ber 19 and allow them to pick 
up their lives again. The psy- 
chiatric treatments began in 
December 1963, more than 
two years after the alleged 
UFO encounter. It was while 
under deep hypnosis that Bar- 
ney and Betty Hill narrated a 
tale much stranger than the one apparently lodged in their 
conscious minds. Dr. Simon kept his tape recorder going 
while Bamey Hill described his abduction by alien captors. 

Hill recounted being led up a ramp to the alien craft and 
ushered into an examination room. "I could feel them ex- 
amining me with their hands. . . . They looked at my back, 
and I could feel them touching my skin . . ., as if they were 
counting my spinal column . . . and then I was turned over, 
and again I was looked at. My mouth was opened, and 
I could feel two fingers pulling it back. Then 1 heard as if 
some more men came in, and 1 could feel them rustling 
around on the left side of the table I was lying on. Something 
scratched very lightly, like a stick against my left arm. And 
then these men left'. 

"Then my shoes were put back on, and I stepped down. 
I think I felt very good because I knew it was over. ... I went 
down [the ramp] and opened my eyes and kept walking. I saw 
my car . . . and Betty was coming down the road, and she 
came around and opened the door." 

Betty Hill told a similar story of physical examination. It 
seemed to her that the aliens were taking samples for later 

Betty and Barney Hill (lop) hold a copy of The Inter- 
rupted Journey, an account of their alleged abduction by aliens in New Hampshire in 
1961. At right is a sketch by an artist who heard Barney 
Hill describe the mysterious visitors. 


Brazilian student Antonio Villas Boas, who claimed he 
was abducted by aliens in 1957, recalled a bold inscription (below) that appeared 

over a door inside the visitors' spacecraft 

analysis. "I tp into this room," she began, "and some of the 
men come in the room with this man who speaks English. 
They stay a minute— I don't know who they are; I guess 
maybe they're the crew . . . and another man comes in. I 
haven't seen him before. I think he's a doctor. They bring the 
machine over . . . it's something like a microscope, only a 
microscope with a big lens. 1 had an idea they were taking a 
picture of my skin. "Then they took something like a Jetter 
opener— only it wasn't— and they scraped my arm here . . . 
there was something like a piece of cellophane or plastic, 
something like that, they scraped, and they put this that ca 
off on this plastic." 

Betty Hill said she asked the apparent leader where h 
ship had come from, and he showed her the location on a star 
map. Then she was escorted back down the rampK) she 
could return to the car. 

The psychiatric examination of Betty and Barney Hill 
lasted six months; at the end of that time, Dr. Simon delivered 
his professional opinion: "The charisma of hypnosis has 
tended to foster the belief that hypnosis is the magical and 
royal road to TRUTH. In one sense, this is so, but it must be 
understood that hypnosis is a pathway to the truth as it is felt 
and understood by the patient. The truth is what he,believes 
to be the truth, and this may or may not be consonant with 
the ultimate nonpersonal truth." Simon concluded that the 
abduction part of the Hills' story was a fantasy, absorbed by 
Barney from Betty's retelling of her dreams following the 
encounter along the lonely New Hampshire road. 

Barney Hill recovered his health but died at the age of 
forty-six from natural causes. Years afterward, Betty Hill 
claimed to see UFOs again, sometimes as many as 50 to 100 
a night in what she called "a special area" of New Hampshire. 
But she never again claimed to be the target of kidnappers 
from other planets. 

Two particular aspects of the Hills' account have helped 
to give it a certain amount of credibility in the eyes of many 
investigators. The first of these is a star map that Betty Hill 
drew following her hypnotic sessions. The chart was based, 
she said, on the one shown to her by the alien leader. In the 

late 1960s, an elementary-school teacher and amateur as- 
tronomer named Marjorie Fish read of the Hills' story and 
decided to see if Betty's map could be matched to any nearby 
star system. After building a scale model of the stars within 
a radius of thirty-three light-years from the earth, based on 
the 1969 Catalogue of Nearby Stars, she discovered that the 
map corresponded closely- thougliriot exactly— to a view of 
our sun and neighboring stars from a few light-years beyond 
the Zeta Ret icuii star system Ik 

Several astronomers verified th^accuracy of Fish's 
model Inuiguingly enough, a number of these stars were 
unknown {to earth lings, at least] un til the 1 9b9 catalogue was 
published— in other words, eight years after the Hills' expe- 
rience. To fee sure, critics have argued that the match be- 
tween the model and Betty Hill's star map was a lucky co- 
incidence, but proponents of the Hills UFO account maintain 
that the odds for this appear to be slim 

W The second signi ficant feature oi the HOI Slory is that 
Heir abduction experience, unlikely as it was, came over 
years to be echoed by more and more people around the 
world, many of them purportedly remembering the details o 
these traumatic evenf^^^under hypnosis. Apparently sin- 
cere and frightened people reported abductions that usually 
followed the consistent pattern of car failure on a lonely road, 
the approach of alien creatures, paralysis and transport onto 
an unidentified flying object, medical examination, and re- 
turn to the car (pages 57-63). 

For example, members of the Avis family were driving 
back to their home in Aveley, England, a town in the county 
of Essex, east of London, one night in 1974 when they saw a 
pale blue light accompanying their car. As they entered a 
lonely stretch of road, they passed through an eerie green 
mist that seemed to jolt the car. When they arrived home, they 
found that they had somehow lost three hours. Although they 
had no memory of the missing time, subsequent hypnosis 
brought out a tale of abduction and medical experimentation 
by four-foot-tall aliens. 

Echoing the Avis story, with some extraordinary con- 
tactee elements thrown in, was the tale recounted by a New 


England woman, Betty Andreasson, in the mid-1970s. Her 
account was so bizarre, and yet so sincere, that it thoroughly 

Jd an investigating team that consisted of a hypnotist, a 
liacrlst. a physicist, an aerospace engineer, and others 
ooked into her case for a year. 
Like many abductees, Betty Andreasson claimed to 
only a fragmentary memory of her experience until the 
; story emerged under hypnosis, many years later. Ac- 
to this subsequent recollection, it all began in the 
r of 1967. Betty Andreasson and her seven children 
were going through trying times in their home in South Ash- 
burnham, Massachusetts, a small, wooded town in the north- 
ern part of the state. Her husband had been badly hurt in an 
automobile accident the previous month and was hospital- 
ized, so Betty Andreasson s parents had joined the household 
to help out. The woman's main support, however, was her 
strong Christian faith. 

On January 25, the warm air of an early thaw wrapped 
the little town in fog. That night, the 
lights in the Andreasson house flick- 
ered and went out. At the same time, 

a pink glow pulsed into the house 
through a kitchen window. Betty An- 
dreasson's father, looking into the 
backyard, witnessed something amaz- 
ing. According to his signed statement: 
"These creatures that I saw through 
the window of Betty's house were just 
like Halloween freaks. I thought they 
had put on a funny kind of headdress 
imitating a moon man ... the one in 
front looked at me and I felt kind of 
queer. That's all I knew." 

At that point, Betty Andreasson 
said later, her entire family fell into a 
sort of suspended animation. But she 
remained awake to see small alien be- 
ings enter her house, passing right 
through a closed door. She described 

Four months after his alleged abduc- 
tion, Villas Boas was examined by Dr. Olavo 
T. Fontes, who said the student 
might have suffered radiation poisoning. 

the intruding creatures as short and gray skinned, with huge, 
slanted, catlike eyes. Their hands each had only three fingers, 
and their bodies were clothed in shiny, form-fitting uniforms. 

The aliens communicated with the woman telepathi- 
cally. They asked her, she said, to follow them so she could 
help the world. When she reluctantly agreed, feeling as 
though she was being hypnotized, the creatures led her to 
their oval craft in her backyard. 

Like Betty and Barney Hill, Betty Andreasson reported 
being subjected to an unpleasant medical examination on 
board the craft. At one point the aliens inserted needlelike 
wires into her nose and navel, relieving some of the ensuing 
pain merely by placing their hands on her forehead. When 
they were finished with the exam, she said, her captors led her 
through a long black tunnel and into a room where she was 
encased in a glassy canopy. A gray fluid flowed into the can- 
opy, covering Betty Andreasson and apparently protecting 
her while she and the aliens traveled to another world. 

When they arrived, more tunnels 
led the woman and two aliens from the 
vehicle into an eerie, lifeless land- 
scape. Shimmering red light surround- 
ed them as they glided along a floating 
track between square buildings. Betty 
Andreasson was horrified to see head- 
less creatures that resembled lemurs 
swarming over some of the struc- 
tures—but she and her captors passed 
safely among them. 

After moving through a circular 
membrane, the woman found herself 
amid new scenery: The atmosphere 
was now green, and the travelers were 
flanked on either side by misty bodies 
of water. Ahead of the party appeared 
a pyramid and an array of airborne 
crystals, which were reflecting a bril- 
liant light. The light source lay at the 
end of the path, but blocking their view 



of it was an even more astonishing sight. A huge bird that 
looked like an eagle but was twice as tall as a human loomed 
in front of her, radiating an intense heat. Even as the woman 
watched, half blinded by the light, the bird vanished. In its 
place was a small fire, dying down to ashes; from the ashes 
crawled a thick gray worm. 

A loud voice to her right called Betty Andreasson's 
name. It told her that she had been chosen, although her 
mission was not to be revealed to her then. When the woman 
proclaimed her faith in God, the voice told her that was the 
reason why she was chosen. No more information was given 
to her, and the woman's alien companions brought her back 
through the green and red realms to the room with the glass 
canopies. The apparent leader of the creatures, whose name 
seemed to be Quazgaa, told her that he would impart to her 
certain formulas that could help humanity, but only when 
people learned to look within the spirit. 
r*^ri£r; he return voyage, if such it was, resem- 

^^^jl^^. bled the first trip, and Betty Andreasson 
^^^^ and her captors soon emerged into her 
fog-shrouded backyard. It was still night- 
time, and Andreasson's family was still 
frozen in position inside the house. The aliens led them all to 
their beds and departed. In the morning, the woman said 
later, she remembered little of the experience. It was not 
until eight years afterward, when she saw an article about 
J. Allen Hynek's studies of unidentified flying objects, that she 
wrote to investigators. 

Betty Andreasson could provide no corroborating evi- 
dence for her story other than the fleeting impressions of her 
family. She was unable to explain her phoenixlike vision or 
relate the message that had supposedly been implanted in her 
memory. Voice-stress tests and psychiatric examinations 
confirmed both her sanity and her sincerity, however, and 
those looking into her case courd conclude only that she 
appeared to be a reliable person who believed in the truth of 
her experience. 

Almost as bizarre was the tale told by Antonio Villas 
Boas, a Brazilian student who often helped out on his father's 

farm. He claimed to have been plowing a field by the lights of 
his tractor one night in 1 957, when an egg-shaped UFO land- 
ed about fifteen yards away from him. The tractor's engine 
failed, and although Villas Boas attempted to run away, four 
humanoids managed to seize him and drag him struggling 
into their spacecraft. The creatures spoke to each other with 
odd barking noises while they took a blood sample and re- 
moved the young man's clothes. Villas Boas, who was al- 
ready disoriented by these invasive procedures, was further 
astonished when the humanoids departed and another crea- 
ture, who was described as a small, naked, and beautifully 
blond "woman," entered the room. 

After some encouragement by the speechless alien, the 
student reported, he felt compelled to have sex with her; 
following this she pointed to her belly and then to the sky, 
leading Villas Boas to believe that she would bear his child. 
The humanoids then allowed him to dress, gave him a tour 
of the craft, and finally deposited him back in his fields as 
dawn was approaching. 

Villas Boas felt increasingly nauseousover the next few 
days, and he discovered unusual wounds on his body. The 
doctor who examined him a few months later recorded a 
number of strange scars as well as symptoms resembling 
those typical of radiation poisoning. This medical evidence, 
together with the young man's reputation for honesty, has led 
some researchers to study the case seriously, despite the fact 
that its details sound incredible. 

The disconcerting and frequently outlandish close encounter, 
contactee, and abduction stories that began to crop up in the 
1950s did little to boost the credibility of UFO tales in 
scientific circles or in the eyes of the U.S. government. But 
continued sightings of a less fantastic sort fueled public in- 
terest in flying saucers until, in time, the air force would 
acknowledge widespread concern and sponsor an indepen- 
dent study of the UFO phenomenon. Unfortunately, though, 
the investigation would eventually stimulate the very con- 
troversy it was designed to quell, and the struggle to separate 
fact from fiction would persist. 


Project Blue Book 

For more than twenty years, from 
1948 through 1969, the United States Air Force was charged with 
investigating UFO reports. During most of that period, the respon- 
sibility lay with a task force code-named Project Blue Book. 

Project Blue Book evolved from two previous air force studies- 
Projects Sign and Grudge— that had been formed to investigate UFO 
reports but had floundered because of inexperience and disorga- 
nized procedures. With the rash of UFO sightings in 1952, the need 
for a more systematic study of UFOs became apparent, and Project 
Blue Book was inaugurated. Led by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, staff- 
ers developed quick, concise methods of evaluating sightings. Wit- 
nesses received an eight-page questionnaire, photographs and neg- 
atives were analyzed, and field interviews were conducted. 
Investigators consulted astronomical data, monitored aircraft 
flights, and checked weather records. 

On the whole, the Project Blue Book team successfully weeded 
out UFO reports that were obvious hoaxes or could be attributed to 
natural phenomena. But the group operated under an undisguised 
bias that UFOs did not exist. Thus, for the small percentage of cases 
not readily solved, investigators had two choices: admit they had 
failed to identify the object or embrace any remotely feasible expla- 
nation. Both options were exercised. On the following pages is a 
representative sampling of Project Blue Book cases, including some 
of the original documentation with names deleted by the air force for 
reasons of confidentiality. 


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1,4 -a ^ctOfl 

1 - and tti* ' ~ of c ataer& V, 7 ft* ^00^ 

Rex Heflin, a thirty -seven -year > 
a/ J California highway 
department employee, had 
been inspecting a road sign on 
\ugust 3, 1965, when he 
allegedly spotted a VfO. Heflin 
used his department-issued 
camera to photograph a domed 
metallic object that he claimed 
was about SO feet in diameter 
and hovering about ISO feet 
above the ground. 

Project Blue Book analysis of 
the photographs revealed the 
object to be much smaller than 
Heflin had reported— probably 
only one to three feet in diame- 
ter—and just fifteen to twenty 
feet off the ground. Although 
investigators initially consid- 
ered Heflin, a farmer police of 
fleer, a reliable witness, in- 
consistencies in his story 
and doubts about the pho- 
tographs ted them to label 
the sighting a hoax. 


Paul Villa did not fust happen 
upon the object he photo- 
graphed In June 1 963; he 
claimed that he was told, via 
telepathic communication, 
to meet visitors from a dlstani 
galaxy ai a prearranged place 
and time. Once there, main- 
tained the forty -nine -year-wld 
mechanic from Albuquerque, 
New Mexico, he conversed 
with aliens and photographed 
their space saucer. 

Scrutiny of the photographs 
indicated that the object was 
probably a spaceship model 
less than two feet In diameter 
and about seven inches high, 
suspended in front of die 
camera. Slue Book Investiga- 
tors concluded that Villa 
apparently believed he had 
made contact with extrater- 
restrials an d h ad fabricated 
some evidence to lend credi- 
bility to his story. 

The hazy white object in the 
photograph at right was alleg- 
edly spotted near Sloan, Neva- 
da, in 1965. Claiming that he 
saw the UFO moving through 
the sky when he stopped to 
change his shoes, the traveler 
took a camera pom his car and 
photographed the scene. 

Although investigators 
thought the man to be "ait hon- 
est and sober individual, "Ms 
story contained inconsistencies. 
The photograph showed little 
indication of the object's mo- 
tion. And if, as the observer re- 
ported, the UFO had been some 
distance from the car, the ob- 
ject's size would be huge, 

Neither the print nor the neg- 
ative showed signs of alter- 
ation. But investigators noted 
that the observer was employed 
by a photographic film process- 
ing plant und concluded that 
the unknown object was proba- 
bly caused by a drop of develop- 
er fluid placed on the negative 
emulsion during processing, 




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Photographs of supposed UFOs 
sometimes arrived at Project 
Blue Book headquarters with 
only the sparsest information 
about the sighting. While this 
made it difficult for investiga- 
tors to reach a solid conclusion, 
each such case was usually giv- 
en at least a cursory examina- 
tion. One of these involved a 
photograph taken in Italy in 
September i960. 

According to the cover letter, 
the three domed objects in the 
photograph were round and 
about fifty feet in diameter. But 
after noting that the alleged 
UFOs were much darker than 
anything else in the print, and 
not in focus, photo analysts de- 
cided that the negative may 
have been retouched. The sight- 
ing was ruled a probable hoax. 


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KS8K a-— 1 * - 

1 ^ SSsdlJ^ 1 

n/A___- — ^""^ 7^ lo Static •WWg*" ^ u&e * photo 

On a dear, crisp March 
evening in tfS% amateur as- 
tronomer Jesse Wilson decided 
to photograph the moon 
through his telescope. He no- 
ticed nothing unusual as he 
peered through the camera's 
viewfinder, fitted against the 
telescope's eyepiece. Later, 
however, he'discovered thai one 
print pom the roil of film re- 
vealed a string of thirty -four 
bright objects* arcing in a line 
away from the moon. 

Wilson had his equipment 
checked for tight teaks, and he 
studied the print and negative 
under magnification. Finding 
no mechanical reason for the 
spots, he sent the photograph 
to Project Blue Bock 

Photographic experts consid- 
ered and ruled out many expla- 
nations, including static elec- 
tricity In the camera, Unable to 
find a logical cause for the ob- 
jects, however. Project Blue 
Book ultimately settled on stat- 
ic electricity as the culprit. 

The brilliant illumination of 
their Island Park, New York, 
home roused a sleeping couple 
one night in August 1965, They 
looked out a window into the 
cloudless sky, where, they later 
reported, they saw four lights 
appearing one by one. The lights 
remained visible for two hours, 
ample time to capture them on 
film. Although the lights looked 
round to the observers, they ap- 
peared as odd linear shapes in 
the resulting photograph. Air 
force investigators concluded 
that the Irregular sh apes were 
due to camera movement. 
The lights themselves could 
not be positively identified 
and were arbitrarily attrib- 
uted to ground lights re- 
flected in the night sky. 


j ■ 

reap*"** 1 

i v7t;/t en rot/ft co ttyoming m 
J966, d Virginia tourist Slopped 
his car to photograph a cloud 
formation. He covered his cam- 
era Jens with a pair of sunglass- 
es to reduce the glare. Although 
he did not see anything strange 
through the vjewfinder, the fi- 
nal print revealed an elliptical 
shape in the sky. Project Blue 
Book experts decided the object 
was probably a reflection, 
caused by the makeshift filter 
or occurring inside the fens. 
The tack of a visual sighting by 
the photographer, they felt, re- 
inforced their conclusion. 




When teenage brothers Dan 
and Grant Jarosiaw photo- 
graphed a suspended spaceship 
model near their Michigan 
home in 1967, they had no idea 
how far the joke would go. 
Their mother, thinking the pic- 
tures were real, alerted the 
newspapers; Project Blue Book 
came to call soon afterward. 
Scrutiny of the prints failed to 
Identify the object, and even 
scientific consultant J. Allen 
Hynek was bajjled. "Analysis 
so far does not show any 
indication of an obvious 
hoax, "Hynek told reporters 

Reluctant to admit they 
were stumped, investigators 
stamped the case "insuffi- 
cient data for evaluation, *' 
Nine years later the case 
was closed when the faro- 
slaw brothers confessed 
their prank. 

9 Jan $f 


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I photo {a*^ 




**** r 0P ei L ^ carrien - \ 


Jn i 962 f Project Blue Book 
investigators were asked to re- 
view a UFO report pled by 
three young boys in Sheffield, 
England, The boys, allegedly in- 
lending to photograph a 
pet dog, claimed to have spied 
five peculiar objects in the 
sky and recorded them Instead* 
Investigators from the British 
Air Ministry had uncovered no 
evidence that the photograph or 
negative had been altered. 

Project Blue Book experts 
confirmed the photograph's 
authenticity and were at a toss 
to explain the objects. Rather 
than admit defeat, however, 
they cited a tack of sufficient In- 
formation about the case, Ten 
years later, it was revealed thai 
the objects were actually shapes 
painted on a windowpane. 

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ftp* fg' ~ tf c *' '" ; — — \ 

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One C<I5C invesfJjjtftcd 1 during 
Project Blue Book's busiest 
month —fufy I 952 - involved a 
Coast Guard photographer 
named Shell Alpert in Salem, 
Massachusetts, Alpert claimed 
to have seen four brilliant lights 
through his office window; 
they suddenly dimmed as he 
prepared to photograph them. 
He went to fetch a colleague, 
and as the rwo men entered the 
room, the lights shone again. 
Alpert snapped his picture; 
then the lights disappeared. 

Analysts believed that the 
photograph had probably been 
faked by means of double expo- 
sure. Perhaps dissatisfied with 
their hasty first evaluation, 
investigators reviewed the case 
again eleven years later. They 
discounted the possibility of 
a hoax and concluded that the 
tights were, in fact, interior 
reflections on the window glass. 


A Deepening Confrovercy 

he 1960s were, to say the least, a turbulent time for the United States. There 
was unprecedented prosperity- never had an economic boom gone on so 
long -yet at the same time violent protests against poverty and racial seg- 
regation convulsed such major cities as Los Angeles and Detroit. The per- 
ceived threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union eased, but America's 
entanglement in Vietnam was costing more in money and blood than anyone 
had intended, and seemingly could not be controlled. Science progressed 
dramatically as humankind reached for the moon, while a lengthening list of 
political leadersf ell victim to assassins' bullets. Along with it all, beginning in 
1 965, came one of the great waves of UFO sightings. Since 1 958, the number 
of cases reported to Project Blue Book had been averaging 514 per year; there 
were nearly that many in the summer alone of 1965. 

The air force had long demonstrated that it did not want this job. The 
entire national program was being run out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base 
in Ohio by an officer, a sergeant, and a secretary. Its usual response to a 
sighting was to dispatch an officer from the nearest air force base to take a 
cursory look around, then issue an immediate explanation— one that often 
had little or no credibility even with the casually interested— or refuse to 
comment. U-FO enthusiasts continued to mutter darkly of a massive cover-up 
on the part of the U.S. government. 

Far larger numbers of people thought the subject deserved better re- 
search. With astronauts virtually commuting to outer space, and the moon 
about to become a landing field for human explorers, public expectations of 
a complete explanation of the stubborn mystery of UFOs steadily escalated. 

The pressure could not be bottled up indefinitely. During the next few 
years, matters seemed to come to a head: The U.S. Congress, sensitive to the 
growing public dissatisfaction, responded with two separate investigations; 
the air force contracted with the University of Colorado for an impartial, 
scientific review of the whole subject; and American journalists, finding all 
this irresistible, wrote copiously about the sightings, the investigators, and 
the investigations of the investigators. Surely no mystery, even one as in- 
tractable as UFOs, could withstand such sophisticated attention. 

The flurry began early on the morning of September 3, 
1965, in southeastern New Hampshire, not far from that 
state's minuscule share of the Atlantic shore. Norman J. Mus- 
carello, eighteen, was hitchhiking home to the small town of 
Exeter from Amesbury, Massachusetts, about twelve miles 
away. Few cars were traveling Route 1 50 through the coun- 
tryside after midnight; Muscarello had to walk most of the 
way. He had only about two miles to go when he saw it. 

An enormous sphere rose like a red moon from behind 
some trees. But it was no moon. It pitched forward and hov- 
ered over a nearby house belonging to Clyde Russell, illumi- 
nating it with brilliant red light. Muscarello reckoned the 
thing was eighty or ninety feet long, much bigger than Rus- 
sell's house, and noted a belt of blinking red lights around its 
girth. He had no idea what it was, but he knew it was no 
ordinary aircraft, for it yawed and careened clumsily and 
generated no engine noise. Suddenly, it appeared to lurch 
toward him, and Muscarel- 
lo dived into the ditch for 
cover. But the craft disap- 
peared behind the trees. 

Muscarello got up, ran 
to the Russell house, and 
pounded frantically on the 
front door, screaming for 
help. There was no re- 
sponse. He saw headlights 
coming up the road, dashed 
out, and flagged down the 
car. It stopped, and the cou- 
ple in it gave him a ride into 
Exeter. At 2:25 a.m., a badly 
shaken Muscarello stum- 
bled into the Exeter police 
station and began babbling 
about having seen a UFO. 

The patrolman on 
desk duty, Reginald Toland, 
listened to the scrambled 

story and asked the youth how many beers he had had to 
drink. "Look," Muscarello pleaded, "I knowyou don't believe 
me. I don't blame you. Butyou got to send somebody back out 
there with me!" Toland put no stock in the story but could see 
that the boy was genuinely scared, and it was a slow night. 
He called in a patrol car. 

Minutes later, officer Eugene Bertrand arrived at the 
station. And it turned out that he had something to add to 
Muscarello's story. An hour or so earlier, while patrolling the 
outskirts of Exeter, he had spotted a car parked alongside a 
highway. Upon checking, he found a woman sitting in it, too 
distraught to drive. She told Bertrand she had been followed 
for about twelve miles from Epping, New Hampshire, by a 
glowing red object. It hovered over her car until she reached 
Exeter, then shot straight up and disappeared. Bertrand had 
dismissed her story, not even bothering to report it to the 
station. Now, listening to Muscarello, he began to wonder. 

Bertrand drove Muscarello 
back to the field where the 
boy claimed to have seen 
the UFO. It was a clear night 
with very little wind. The 
moon had gone down 
sometime before midnight, 
and the stars shone bright- 
ly. Bertrand parked the 
cruiser near a telephone 
pole and told Toland by ra- 
dio that he could not see 
anything unusual. But Mus- 
carello was still upset. 

The patrol officer 
walked with him toward the 
woods, across a farm field 
owned by Carl Dining. 
When they reached a horse 
corral, Bertrand flicked his 
flashlight around and tried 
to persuade Muscarello that 


•there like H, was seen by many local witnesses in 1 96 S in what came to be known as the "Exeter incident/' 


he had probably seen a helicopter. Muscarello protested that 
he knew aircraft and how they flew, and that what he had 
seen was definitely not a helicopter or one of the aircraft 
stationed at Pease Air Force Base about ten miles to the 
northeast. Then, as Bertrand told it later, the horses in the 
corral began kicking and whinnying, dogs in the nearby yards 
began howling, and Muscarello screamed, "I see it! I see it!" 

Bertrand whirled and saw, rising slowly from behind the 
trees, a brilliant, round object. Silently, it wobbled toward 
them as a leaf flutters from a tree, bathing the landscape in 


4 J 

Officers David Hunt (left) and Eugene Bertrand of the Exeter police de- 
partment stand by a squad car on Route 150 in southern New Hamp- 
shire, where, in September 1 965, they allegedly saw a UFO. 

crimson light. Bertrand, an air force veteran who had served 
aboard KC-97 tankers, was so frightened that he reflexively 
grabbed for his revolver. Then he thought better of that and 
ran with Muscarello back to the cruiser. 

"My God!" Bertrand yelled into his radio, "I see the 
damn thing myself!" Then he and Muscarello watched, en- 
thralled, as the object hovered eerily about 1 00 feet above the 
ground, 300 feet away from them. It rocked silently back and 
forth, its brilliant red lights flashing sequentially. They were 
so bright, Bertrand said later, that he could not determine the 
exact shape of the object; it was, he said, "like trying to 
describe a car with its headlights coming at you." 

Another patroiman, David Hunt, had been listening to 

the radio traffic and had decided to have a look. As he pulled 
up and jumped out of his car, he said later, "I could see those 
pulsating lights. I could hear those horses kicking out in the 
bam there. Those dogs were really howling. Then it started 
moving, slow-like, across the tops of the trees, just above the 
trees. It was rocking when it did this. A creepy type of look. 
Airplanes don't do this." 

Bertrand was unwilling to believe his eyes. "Your mind 
is tellingyou this can't be true, and yetyou're seeing it," he 
said later. "I kept telling Dave, What is that, Dave? What do 

you think? He'd say, I don't 
know. I have never seen an 
aircraft like that before, and I 
know damn well they haven't 
changed that much since I was 
in the service." The object fi- 
nally moved out toward the 
ocean. "We waited awhile," 
said Hunt. "A B-47 came over. 
You could tell the difference. 
There was no comparison." 

Shortly after the over- 
wrought message from Ber- 
trand, Officer Toland received 
another call back at the sta- 
tion—this one from a night 
telephone operator in Exeter. 
"Some man had just called 
her," Toland reported later, 
"and he was so hysterical he 
could hardly talk straight. He 
told her that a flying saucer 
came right at him, but before 
he could finish, he was cut off." The caller had been at a pay 
phone in Hampton, about seven miles east of Exeter. Toland 
notified the Hampton police and Pease Air Force Base. 

The hysterical man was never located, but that night 
and for several days afterward, other people reported similar 
sightings. The next day two air force officers interviewed 
Muscarello, Bertrand, and Hunt, then returned, tight-lipped, 
to the base. Under air force regulations, official comment 
could be made only from the office of the secretary of the air 
force in Washington. No one knew when that might come. 

But because of the number of witnesses involved, their 
credibility, and the convincing detail of their reports, the story 
could not be ignored. It was picked up by the national news 
services, and among the people intrigued by it was John Ful- 
ler, a columnist for the magazine Saturday Review. Fuller 
published his own caref ully researched version of what came 



to be known as the "Exeter incident," then decided to inves- 
tigate even more extensively. 

He was hardly alone. The National Investigations Com- 
mittee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), headquartered in 
Washington, D.C., had already assigned one of its investiga- 
tors to the case. Despite its imposing name, NICAP had no 
official status; it was an organization of private citizens who 
were convinced that UFO sightings were not being properly 
studied. A volunteer NICAP investigator from Massachusetts, 
Raymond E. Fowler, visited Exeter, collected signed state- 
ments from the witnesses, and compiled a thorough 
eighteen-page report. Fowler was impressed by the quality of 
the sighting. He told Fuller that "both the officers are intel- 
ligent, capable, and seem to know what they're talking 
about." Others were not so impressed. A local reporter who 
knew that a pilot often flew around the Exeter area towing an 
illuminated advertising sign suggested that that was what 
everyone had been seeing. Aside from the fact that there was 

no resemblance between 
the sign and the descrip- 
tions of the object, it was 
later confirmed that the air- 
craft and the sign had been 
on the ground when the 
sightings occurred. 

Then there was the air 
force. It took its usual unin- 
terested stance, despite the 
proximity of these reported 
aerial phenomena to Pease 
Air Force Base— a Strategic 
Air Command bomber 
base, home to B-47s and B- 

Among the first to see a UFO 
during the Exeter incident was 
Norman Muscarello. He was 
hitchhiking before dawn on 
September 3 when, he said, a 
huge object with pulsing red 
lights appeared in the sky. 

Veteran news reporter Virginia Hale was washing dishes one evening 
in 1 965 when she glanced out her kitchen window in Hampton and 
reportedly saw a glowing saucer-shaped object in the twilight sky. 

52s. Several witnesses reported having observed, in addition 
to the big red UFO, a number of jet fighters in the sky that 
night. Area residents were used to seeing bombers but not 
fighters; the presence of interceptors suggested that they had 
been sent up from other bases to investigate the UFOs, al- 
though the air force emphatically denied this. 

There was other evidence, however, that the air force 
was intensely interested in the incident at Exeter. Air force 
officers were seen f or a time prowling the roads where the 
sightings had taken place. Two of them-a colonel and a 
major— got into an angry exchange with some local residents 
when the colonel insisted that what everyone had taken for 
a UFO was just the glare of landing lights at the base. In the 

face of vociferous denials, the colonel sent the major off to 
have the runway marker lights and approach strobes (which 
provide visual assistance to pilots in all kinds of weather) 
turned on and off for a fifteen-minute period. Neither the 
colonel nor anyone else present saw a thing. In due course, 
the air force issued its official pronouncement on the Exeter 
sightings. In fact, the statement made at the Pentagon on 
October 27, 1965, offered several explanations, all of them 
natural. To begin with, said a spokesman, multiple aircraft 
had been in the area because of a Strategic Air Command 
training exercise. Moreover, there had been a weather in- 
version, in which cold air is trapped between warm layers of 
air, causing stars and planets to "dance and twinkle." In 
conclusion, he said, "We believe what the people saw that 
night were stars and planets in unusual formations. He of- 
fered no specifics about these so-called unusual formations. 

ater checking revealed that the training 
exercise, which had been run out of 
Westover Air Force Base at Springfield, 
Massachusetts, more than 100 air miles 
from Exeter, was over by 2:00 a.m., well 

before officers Bertrand and Hunt had observed the UFO. As 
to the dancing planets in unusual formations, there was noth- 
ing to check. Patrolmen Bertrand and Hunt, deeply embar- 
rassed by the belittling official explanation of their frightening 
experience, wrote a letter of protest to the air force. Approx- 
imately three months later, they received an apology of sorts. 
Signed by a lieutenant colonel in an air force public- 
information office, it said: "Based on additional information 
you submitted to our UFO investigation office at Wright- 
Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, we have been unable to iden- 
tify the object you observed on September 3, 1965." 

But, it went on to say, virtually all such reports in the 
past had turned out to be man-made objects, or the product 
of atmospheric conditions, or meteors. And, in conclusion, 
"Thankyou for reporting your observation to the Air Force." 
John Fuller's book Incident at Exeter stimulated a third and 
more serious attempt to explain what all those people had 
seen. The book was read carefully by, among many others, 

Philip J. Klass— an electrical engineer and senior editor of the 
technical journal Aviation Week & Space Technology. He was 
preparing to debunk UFOs at a 1966 symposium sponsored 
by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 

Klass was struck by several prominent themes present 
in most of the Exeter sightings— the spherical shape, erratic 
flight, bright glow, and humming or hissing sound of the 
objects. Klass knew of something in nature that had all these 
characteristics: ball lightning. This little-known kind of light- 
ning is usually oval in shape and an intense red, is often heard 
to sizzle, and moves around with unpredictable vigor, some- 
times hanging motionless, at other times darting about at 
high speeds with instantaneous changes in direction. Of 
course, Klass had problems trying to make a complete match 
between the Exeter UFO sightings and ball lightning. The 
objects seen around Exeter were larger, and remained visible 
longer, than any confirmed examples of ball lightning. And, 
of course, the big objection was that ball lightning is a product 
of thunderstorms, and the Exeter sightings were not accom- 
panied by any. Unwilling to give up on a promising line of 
research, Klass delved deeper. Ball lightning is one example 
of what physicists call a plasma— a region of ionized gas (in 
this case, air) created by a strong electrical charge. 

Plasmas, which behave differently from ordinary gases, 
are regarded as a fourth state of matter; their study has be- 
come a separate branch of physics. They are being re- 
searched for use in controlling thermonuclear reactions and 
as the potential driving force for interstellar travel. Saint El- 
mo's fire, often seen on ships and aircraft during thunder- 
storms, is a plasma. But it is not only static electricity that 
produces plasmas; high-voltage power lines are sometimes 
spangled with moving globes of light called coronas— anoth- 
er form of plasma. And many of the Exeter UFO reports in- 
cluded references to nearby electric transmission lines. 

Perhaps, Klass said, the corona of the high-tension lines 
had somehow produced a special, previously unknown kind 
of luminous plasma-a larger, more long-lived form of ball 
lightning originating from power lines instead of thunder- 
storms. No such phenomenon had ever been witnessed or 


Philip J. KJass says that all UFO reports are amenable 
to natural explanation. The author of UFOs-IdentiJied believes ball lightning and 
related phenomena account for most sightings. 

produced in a laboratory, but it seemed far more plausible— 
to Klass, at least— than the alternate explanation that the 
objects were alien spaceships. 

Klass extended his study to 746 other sightings docu- 
mented by NICAP. In almost every case, he found the reported 
UFOs displayed the characteristics typical of plasmas: color, 
shape, erratic movement, hissing. The strong electrical 
charge of a plasma could also explain the frequent reports of 
interference with radios, lights, and automobile electrical 
systems in the vicinity of UFOs. Since a plasma has little mass 
and is responsive to electromagnetic fields, its erratic flight 
and high-speed reversals of direction posed no theoretical 
problem. Moreover, plasmas reflect radio waves, so they can- 
not be ruled out when UFOs appear on radar screens. Klass 
made limited, but insistent, claims for his hypothesis. It may, 
he wrote, "explain many sightings of lower-altitude 'uniden- 
tified flying objects.' " Another writerquoted him as believing 
his explanation was "susceptible to confirmation by scientific 
experiment." After examining the NICAP literature, Klass 
made a stronger statement of his belief: "Hundreds of 'un- 

identified flying objects' exhibit characteristics that clearly 
identify them as plasmas." 

Klass received scant encouragement. Traditional sci- 
entists had little reason to pursue his hypothesis; those who 
had already made up their minds about UFOs were uninter- 
ested or openly hostile. Newsweek called his theory "one of 
the most persuasive explanations of all" but added that the 
air force was "noncommittal" and that UFO buffs were 
"unimpressed." One skeptic sarcastically described Klass's 
theory as "a freak of nature— hitherto unknown to science: a 
clear-weather plasma, akin to 'ball lightning,' caused by an 
electrical discharge from nearby high-tension power lines, 
which was somehow able to detach itself, grow to tremen- 
dous size, and cavort about the countryside under its own 
power." As Klass put it, somewhat ruefully, a few UFO buffs 
"seemed Id appreciate my attempt to explain the UFO mys- 
tery rationally, but most of them acted as though I had shot 
Santa Claus or spat upon my country's flag." 

Whatever he had done, he had not answered all the 
questions about the Exeter incident, which would remain 


classified as unexplained. Meanwhile, another rash of sight- 
ings of mysterious objects in the sky occurred, prompting 
another less-than-convincing explanation. 

The next widely publicized cluster of UFO sightings— 
around Ann Arbor, Michigan, during March 1966— gained 
notoriety as the "swamp gas affair" and embroiled the Con- 
gress of the United States in the UFO controversy. 

The first episode to gain national attention took place 
on March 1 4 , when citizens and police officers in three coun- 
ties reported that they had seen lit objects flashing across the 
predawn skies. According to one deputy sheriff, "these ob- 
jects could move at fantastic speeds, make very sharp turns, 
dive and climb and hover with great maneuverability." Three 
days later, a similar display of aerobatics was widely reported 
in the same area. On Sunday, March 20, near the town of 
Dexter, twelve miles from Ann Arbor, Frank Mannor, a forty- 
seven-year-old truck driver, went outside at about 7:30 p.m. to 

quiet his dogs. "When I turned back I saw this meteor," he 
said later. "It stopped and settled to the ground, then rose 
again. It was about a half mile away. I called my wife and my 
kids out, and we watched it for fifteen minutes." 

Then Mannor and his son, Ronnie, walked toward the 
object. "We got to about 500 yards of the thing. It was sort of 
shaped like a pyramid, with a blue-green light on the right- 
hand side and on the left a white light. I didn't see no antenna 
or porthole. The body was like a yellowish coral rock and 
looked like it had holes in it— sort of like if you took a piece 
of cardboard box and split it open. You couldn't see it too 
good, because it was surrounded with heat waves, like you 
see on the desert. The white light turned to a blood red as we 
got close to it, and Ron said, 'Look at that horrible thing.' " At 
that point the object disappeared. 

In the meantime, Mannor's wife, Leona, had called the 
police, using the family's multiparty telephone line. "We've 


Coeds Saw a Flying Object 
Near a Dormitory in Michigan 

Students from Hillsdale College in Michigan pose by a dormitory window from 
which, they said, they watched a UFO for hours the night of March 21, 1966. Media 
attention surrounded the sighting, which involved more than 140 witnesses. 

got an object out here that looks like what they call a flying 
saucer," she reported while several neighbors listened in. 
"It's got lights on it down in the swamp." By the time six 
cruisers arrived, the road past the Mannor house was jammed 
with sightseers' cars. More than fifty people reported they had 
seen the object in the swamp that Sunday evening, including 
several police officers. And later, on the way back to Ann 
Arbor, police in one squad car spotted a UFO in the sky and 
pursued it at high speed, fruitlessly. 

The next day, another fifty people, including twelve po- 
licemen, saw an object near Ann Arbor that resembled the 
one the Mannors had described. That evening, eighty-seven 
female students at Hillsdale College, sixty-five miles south- 
west of Ann Arbor, watched an object flying around and 

flashing bright lights in a swampland for a period of about 
four hours. With them was a local civil defense director and 
a college dean, who was also a former newspaper reporter. 
They said that the object was shaped like a football; that it 
swayed, wobbled, and glowed in flight; and that it once dart- 
ed straight toward a dormitory window before stopping sud- 
denly. The entire area, indeed much of the state of Michigan, 
was in a frenzy that was magnified by the national news 
media. Beseeched by state and local officials to do something, 
the air force dispatched Project Blue Book's consultant, J. 
Allen Hynek, to Ann Arbor to investigate the sightings. 

"The situation was so charged with emotion," Hynek 
said, "that it was impossible for me to do any really serious 
investigation." Even when he decided to focus only on the 


At a hastily called news conference in March 1966, J. Allen Hynek 
shows a sketch made by a witness in the Michigan UFO sightings. Hy- 
nek's suggestion that the UFOs might be swamp gas touched off a fu- 
ror he later termed the "low point of my association with UFOs." 

sightings of March 20 and 21, 
Hynek found that his work 
was obstructed by "clusters of 
reporters," and he received no 
assistance whatsoever from 
the air force. 

Though he was a scien- 
tist and a skeptic, Hynek found 
himself caught up in what he 
described as the "near hyste- 
ria" that gripped the area. He 
was with the police one night 
when a sighting was reported; 
several squad cars converged 
on the spot, radios crackling 
with such excited messages 
as, "I see it!" or "There it is?" 
or "It's east of the river near 
Dexter!" Hynek later con- 
fessed that "occasionally even 
I thought I glimpsed 'it.' " 

Finally the squad cars 
met at an intersection and of- 
ficers spilled out, pointing ex- 
citedly at the sky and saying, 
"See— there it is! It's moving." But, Hynek wrote later, "it 
wasn't moving. 'It' was the star Arcturus, undeniably iden- 
tified by its position in relation to the handle of the Big Dipper. 
A sobering demonstration for me." 

Then, to add to this already chaotic situation, peremp- 
tory orders were issued by the air force: Hynek was to hold a 
news conf erence on March 25 —only four days after the sight- 
ing. As he recalled, his instructions were to release "a state- 
ment about the cause of the sightings. It did me no good to 
protest, to say that as yet I had no real idea what had caused 
the reported sightings in the swamps. I was to have a press 
conference, ready or not." 

Hynek had nothing to go on until he remembered a 
phone call from a botanist at the University of Michigan who 

had "called to my attention the phenomenon of burning 
'swamp gas. ' ' ' This was a substance better known to folklore 
and legend— as jack-o'-lantern, fox fire, and will-o'-the- 
wisp— than to science. It is a gas caused by decaying vege- 
tation, consisting mainly of methane; under certain circum- 
stances it can ignite spontaneously and cast a brief, flickering 
light. Little else was known about it, but it suited Hynek's 
need perfectly: "After learning more about swamp gas from 
other Michigan scientists, I decided that it was a 'possible' 
explanation that I could offer to the reporters." 

To his credit, Hynek made repeated, strenuous qualifi- 
cations in his statement. "I am not making a blanket state- 
ment to cover the entire UFO phenomenon," he wrote; "I 
emphasize in conclusion that I cannot prove in a Court 


of Law that this is the full explanation of these sightings." 

But most of his statement was an exposition of swamp 
gas as the probable cause of the sightings at Dexter and 
Hillsdale: "The flames go out in one place and suddenly ap- 
pear in another place, giving the illusion of motion. No heat 
is felt, and the lights do not burn or char the ground. They can 
appear for hours at a time and sometimes for a whole night. 
Generally there is no smell, and usually no sound, except the 
popping sound of little explosions." To Hynek's dismay, how- 
ever, the news conference "turned out to be no place for 
scholarly discussion; it was a circus. The TV cameramen 
wanted me in one spot, the newspaper men wanted me in 
another, and for a while, both groups were actually tugging 
at me. Everyone was clamoring for a single, spectacular ex- 
planation of the sightings. They wanted little green men. 
When I handed out a statement that discussed swamp gas, 
many of the men simply ignored the fact that I said it was a 
'possible' reason. I watched with horror as one reporter 
scanned the page, found the phrase 'swamp gas,' underlined 
it, and rushed for a telephone. 

"Too many of the stories the next day not only said that 
swamp gas was definitely the cause of the Michigan lights but 
implied that it was the cause of other UFO sightings as well. 
I got out of town as quickly and as quietly as I could." 

Despite Hynek's dismay, which was expressed only lat- 
er, his swamp gas hypothesis quickly became as famous as 
the Michigan sightings themselves; both received national 
coverage to an extent unprecedented in the long history of the 
UFO controversy. The staid New York Times, historically leery 
of UFO stories, carried several reports on the Michigan sight- 
ings, reproduced Frank Mannor's sketch of what he had seen, 
and even hazarded a cautious editorial. Its breezy conclu- 
sion: "The flying saucer enthusiasts demonstrate human 
frailties that are likely to sail on forever." A few days later, 
New York Times columnist Russell Baker dished out a typically 
sardonic observation: "The possibility of flying saucers is a 
healthy antidote for human boredom. Zoo keepers in Pitts- 
burgh and New York have recently been seeking a similar 
antidote for their caged gorillas." The New Yorker magazine 

ran an extensive piece in April, discussing what it called the 
"saucer flap" with an air of genteel derision. 

Newsweek carried a full summary, and Life magazine 
weighed in with a more gaudy but no less carefully qualified 
article titled "Well-Witnessed Invasion-by Something." 
Summing up, the editors said: "Call them what you will: flying 
saucers, Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), optical illusions, 
or the first symptoms of the silly season. They are back 
again— and seen by more people than ever before. Last week 
the manifestations seemed almost to have reached the pro- 
portions of an invasion." But the amused detachment with 
which many reporters viewed the sightings was not shared by 
the hundreds of people who had seen the Ann Arbor UFOs or 
knew people who had. They were offended by the way Hy- 
nek's explanation was reported and accepted, and their feel- 
ings spread throughout Michigan. 

ne of the state's representatives in Con- 
gress, House minority leader Gerald Ford, 
returned to Washington in late March to 
issue a call for a "full-blown" congression- 
al investigation. At about the same time, 
there were calls for action from respected publications and 
observers not previously heard from on this issue. The Chris- 
tian Science Monitor, for one, said in an editorial that the 
Michigan sightings had "deepened the mystery" of UFOs, 
adding, "It is time for the scientific community to conduct a 
thorough and objective study of the 'unexplainable.' " Syn- 
dicated columnist Roscoe Drummond called on Congress to 
"take charge" and order an investigation. If the air force 
believed it could ignore such demands, Congress was under 
no such illusion. Like it or not, it would have to act. 

Thus it was that the first congressional hearing on UFOs 
began as a closed session of the House Committee on Armed 
Services, chaired by Representative L. Mendel Rivers of South 
Carolina, on April 5, 1 966. The previous week, Rivers had 
received a letter from Congressman Ford -who, observed 
Rivers, "has a pretty good sized stature in the Congress." Ford 
cited widespread dissatisfaction with the official response to 
the Ann Arbor sightings and concluded. "In the firm belief 


UFO sightings in the 1 960s pro- 
duced many witnesses willing 
to report what they saw. On 
these two pages are sketches 
made either by witnesses or by 
artists who based their work on 
witnesses' accounts. The draw- 
ings are among hundreds col- 
lected during the decade, some 
by the federal government and 
others by private UFO research 
groups. These sketches are sim- 
ilar in depicting craft roughly 
elliptical or round in shape. 

Several Oklahomans 
described this object with ro- 
tating "ports" in 1967. 

that the American public deserves a better explanation than 
that thus f ar given by the Air Force, I strongly recommend that 
there be a committee investigation" of the UFO phenome- 
non. Ford did not get the wide-ranging inquiry that he had 
hoped for. He had asked that members of the executive 
branch of government and people who had seen UFOs be 
invited to testify; instead, Rivers summoned just three men to 
brief the committee: Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown; 
the director of Project Blue Book, Major Hector Quintanilla, 
Jr.; and Blue Book's scientific consultant, J. Allen Hynek. "See 
if you can shed some light on these highly illuminated ob- 
jects," drawled Rivers. "We can't just write them off. There 
are too many responsible people who are concerned." 
Secretary Brown responded 
with pride that of 
10,147 UFOs investi- 
gated since 1947 by 
the air force, 9,501 had 
been identified as "bright stars 

and planets, comets and me- spotted in Illinois in 1967, 
teors," and the like by "care- thisuFOwas described as 

n „ , , . , . , , , yellow-orange with red lights. 

fully selected and highly qual- 
ified scientists, engineers, technicians and consultants"— 
implied experts— using "the finest Air Force laboratories, test 
centers, scientific instrumentation and technical equip- 
ment." In the other 646 cases, he said, "the inf ormation avail- 
able does not provide an adequate basis for analysis." 

He had reached a confident conclusion: "The past 18 
years of investigating UFOs have not yet identified any threat 
to our national security, or evidence that the unidentified 
objects represent developments or principles beyond 
present-day scientific knowledge, or any evidence of extra- 
terrestrial vehicles." But despite the utter lack of results thus 
far, the air force would remain steadfast and, he said, "con- 
tinue to investigate such phenomena with an open mind." 
Congressman Rivers was apparently reassured by Brown's 
stance; he suddenly saw no reason to continue in executive 
session and admitted the crowd of reporters that had gath- 
ered in the halls. Brown repeated his testimony for their ben- 

efit; then Rivers asked Hynek for his views. Hynek 
was a good deal more ambivalent than Brown, 
and in fact, more so than he had been in the 
past. In 1948, when he was first involved with 
Project Blue Book, he had stated that "the 
whole subject seemed utterly ridiculous" and had ex- 
pected the fad to pass quickly. Instead, UFO sightings had 
become more widespread and frequent. The attention of the 
national news media waxed and waned, he said, but "the 
underlying concern about UFOs, fed by a continuous trickle 
of reports, is indeed growing in the mind and sight of the 
public." It was time, asserted Hynek, for a thorough, scholarly 
approach to what he called the "UFO problem." The air force 
had approached all UFO reports, he continued, with the as- 
sumption "that a conven- 
tional explana- 

tion existed, either as a mis- A Texas family reportedly saw 
• 1 __ „_ _«.u this domed craft and its white 

identification or as an other- ^ in f 96? 

wise well-known object or 

phenomenon, a hallucination, or a hoax. This has been a very 
successful and productive hypothesis." Yet there were inci- 
dents for which that approach did not work; Hynek had 
collected twenty that he could not explain. 

"In dealing with the truly puzzling cases, we 
have tended either to say that, if an investigation 
had been pursued long enough, the misidentified 
object would have been recognized, or that the sighting 
had no validity to begin with." Hynek admitted to being in- 
creasingly uncomfortable with the air force's confident ap- 
proach. "As a scientist, I must be mindful of the lessons of the 
past; all too often it has happened that matters of great value 
to science were overlooked because the new phenomenon 
simply did not fit the accepted scientific outlook of the time." 
During a brief, rambling discussion peppered with jokes 
about Martians, committee members asked about a partic- 
ularly spectacular sighting that had been covered by Life 

A Brazilian boy said he saw 
this craft land near the town 
of Botucstu on Jufy l f 1 968. 


The sighting of this strange 
craft was part of the Hillside, 
Michigan, flap in 1966. 

magazine. Major Quintanilla, who spoke only when directly 
questioned, said Project Blue Book had not investigated that 
case. And then, just an hour and twenty minutes after com- 
mencing, the congressional investigation was over. 

Virtually nothing had been accomplished, except that 
some additional impetus was given to a proposal for a dif- 
ferent kind of study. In an attempt to patch its badly frayed 
credibility on the subject, the air force had already convened 
what it called a scientific advisory board ad hoc committee to 
review Project Blue Book. After a one-day examination of 
Blue Book, the advisory committee reported in February 

1 966; Secretary Brown used some of 
its findings in his statement to 
Rivers's House committee. 
The full advisory committee 
report, however, direct- 
ly contradicted Brown 
on one point. 

/ Trees 

m 1 965, an Oklahoma wit- whereas he had noted that highly 

ness said he saw this low- ,._ , . , . . 

flying ufo in front of a tree, qualified experts and sophisticat- 
ed equipment had been brought 
to bear on UFO investigations, the advisory committee con- 
cluded that the resources assigned to Blue Book "(only one 
officer, a sergeant and secretary) have been quite limited." 
The committee recommended that skilled teams, including 
clinical psychologists and physical scientists, be recruited 
from various universities to investigate selected UFO 
sightings. It was an intriguing idea, and one that was 
made to seem all the more reasonable by the air force's 
handling of a spectacular sighting that occurred 
less than two weeks after the hearing. 

Bef ore dawn on April 17,1 966, two sheriff's 
deputies, Dale Spaur and Wilbur L. Neff, were 
wrapping up an accident investigation near Ra- 

venna, in eastern Ohio. At 4:50, the Portage County dispatch- 
er told them to be on the lookout for a low-flying UFO re- 
ported to be heading their way from the west. They drove in 
that direction, then spotted an abandoned car and stopped. 
They left their cruiser and approached the empty car. That 
was when Spaur— an air force gunner during the Korean 
War— noticed a glowing object about 1,000 feet above the 
trees and to the west. The two watched as it grew larger and 
moved south. Then it came toward them, illuminating the 
roadside. "I had never seen anything this bright before in my 
life," Spaur said later. They ran back to the squad car. Spaur 
grabbed the microphone and described for the dispatch- 
er what they were seeing: 

"It's about fifty feet 
across, and I can just make out 
a dome or something on the 
top, but that's very dark. The 
bottom is real bright; it's put- 
ting out a beam of light that 
makes a big spot underneath. 
It's like it's sitting on the beam. 
It was overhead a minute ago, 
and it was bright as day here: 
Our headlights didn't make 
nearly as much light as it did. 
And this is no helicopter or 
anything like that; it's perfectly still and it just makes a hum- 
ming noise." The dispatcher sent out a car with camera 
equipment and told Spaur and Neff to keep the UFO in sight. 
The object moved; they followed and were soon barreling 
along at nearly ninety miles per hour. Because of their speed 
and some confusion about their location— they were on 
Route 14, but the dispatcher thought they were on 14A— the 
camera unit never found them. 

As Spaur and Neff raced toward Pennsylvania, another 
police officer, Wayne Huston of East Palestine, Ohio, was 
listening to their radio traffic. He pulled up at an intersection 

in their path and soon saw the UFO pass, 
traveling at more than eighty miles per 

An aluminum-colored UFO 
was reported hovering over a 
highway in 1967 by a West 
Virginia merchant. 

This helmet-shaped object al- 
legedly was sighted by some 
English boys at Parr, Mersey- 
side, during 1963. 



UFO enthusiasts met at Giant Rock in 
the southern California desert in 1966 
for the Thirteenth Annual Spacecraft 
Convention. Such conclaves were not un- 
common in the heyday of UFO sightings, 
as believers gathered to swap stories of 
unearthly encounters. 

hour and at an altitude of about 900 feet. Huston joined the 
chase. "It was a funny thing," he recalled later, "but when the 
object got too far ahead of us it appeared to stop and wait." 
The UFO crossed the state line into Pennsylvania, and Huston 
notified the state police. One of their officers contacted the 
Greater Pittsburgh Airport to see if the UFO was visible on 
radar, but the air traffic controllers said they had no such 
object on their screens. 

The pursuit cars were now near Conway, eighty-five 
miles from where the chase had started. Spaur's was running 
low on gas. He noticed another police cruiser at a service 
station, pulled in, and screeched to a halt, with Huston right 
behind him. There they met patrolman Frank Panzanella of 
the Conway police department, who had been tracking the 
UFO. The four officers stood together, watching the object 
hover to the east. The moon was to its right and the planet 
Venus to the right of the moon. As the object moved higher, 
a commercial aircraft (later identified as United Airlines flight 
454) flew underneath it. Panzanella had a request put through 
to the Pittsburgh airport tower: Could it instruct the airline 
flight crew to look for the object? 

The operator who made the call radioed back that air- 
port radar operators had picked up the UFO on their screens, 
but this report was later denied. At that point the object shot 
upward at great speed and disappeared. Another policeman 
on duty later reported that he had seen two jet-fighter aircraft 
aloft, not following but being followed by a bright object 
shaped like a football. 

Before Spaur and Neff returned to Ohio, they were 
asked to call an air force reserve officer at the Pittsburgh 
airport, who talked with them briefly and said a report would 
be filed with Project Blue Book. On their return to Ravenna, 
the deputies found reporters waiting for them; the news wires 
had been monitoring the police radio transmissions. With 
public interest in UFOs still high, the story was avidly picked 
up and, before the day was over, was being talked about all 
over the country. Spaur was willing to discuss it; Neff filed his 
report, went home -"real white, almost in a state of shock," 
his wife said later-and refused to talk to anyone. 

Major Hector Quintanilla, Jr„ of Project Blue Book called 
Spaur the next day and spoke with him for a few minutes. As 
before, the air force had a ready explanation for the sighting, 
which it announced five days later. In fact, the air force ex- 
plained, the policemen had first pursued a communications 
satellite called Echo, and then the planet Venus. 

Once again the air force's account produced outrage; a 
judge and former Congressman called it "ridiculous" and 
added, "the air force has suffered a great loss of prestige in 
this community." Ohio Congressman William Stanton was 
equally blunt. "The air force failed in its responsibility," he 
said on May 5. "Once people entrusted with the public wel- 
fare no longer think the people can handle the truth, then 

the people, in turn, will no longer trust the government." 

In response, Major Quintanilla traveled to Ravenna and 
conducted a brief, personal interview with deputy Spaur. 
Quintanilla apparently knew nothing about the other officers 
involved in the chase and made no attempt to talk to the 
corroborating witnesses. He also denied that the air force had 
dispatched any jets during the incident. He soon left, and the 
official conclusion remained unchanged: Spaur and the oth- 
ers had been chasing the satellite and the planet Venus. 

Further efforts by Congressman Stanton and others to 
get the air force to change its conclusion from "satellite- 
Venus" to "unidentified" were unavailing. Several months 
later, Project Blue Book's consultant, J. Allen Hynek, publicly 

Sheriff Dale Spaur (center) of 
Portage County, Ohio, chased 
an apparent UFO for some 
eighty-Jive miles during the ear- 
ly hours ofAprit 17, 1 966. Here 
he compares notes with his ra- 
dioman, Robert Wilson (right), 
and police chief Gerald Buchert 
of Mantua, Ohio. Buchert 
claimed he photographed the 
object but the air force told him 
not to make the picture public. 

disagreed with the official verdict. 
But the air force was unmoved; ac- 
cording to its version, at least five ex- 
perienced police officers, one of them a 
veteran air crewman, had conducted an hours- 
long, high-speed chase of the morning star. The 
effect of the experience on some of the police 
officers was devastating. Deputy Spaur soon re- 
signed from the sheriff's department and was di- 
vorced from his wif e. A reporter f ound him in October 
living in poverty in a seedy motel, eking out a house 
painter's existence. "If I could change all that 1 have 
done in my life," he said, "I would change just one thing, 
and that would be the night we chased that damn saucer." 

Deputy Neff ref used t o discuss 

the incident any further. "If that 
thing landed in my backyard," he 
told his wife after the hubbub died 
down, "I wouldn't tell a soul." 
Another officer involved in the 
chase reportedly moved to 
J A Seattle, Washington, where 
he went to work as a bus 

Dale Spaur' s sketch of the UFO he chased (above) 
shows a disk with a rudderlike appendage on top and a 
cone-shaped beam of light beneath. 
The map below shows the chase route. 





OHIO East 


driver. "Sure I quit the 
force because of that 
thing," the unidenti- 
fied ex-police officer 
was quoted as say- 
ing. "People 
laughed at me— 
and there was 
pressure. You couldn't put your finger 
on it, but the pressure was there." 

There had been pressure on the gov- 
ernment, too. Just a month after the 
Ohio-Pennsylvania chase and the 
congressional hearing, the air force 
announced that it was indeed going 

to contract with an American 
university to conduct an investi- 
gation of UFOs. It was to be done 
wholly outside the jurisdiction of 
the air force; the scientists involved 
were to have access to the files of Project 
Blue Book and complete freedom of inqui- 
ry. On paper, it sounded as if it was precisely 
what UFO enthusiasts had been demanding for 
years. A long silence followed, while the air force 
tried to find a university that would take on a job that 
one academic vice president described as "elusive 
and controversial." Several prominent schools, includ- 
ing Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of 

Technology, the University of North 

Carolina, and the University of Cal- 
ifornia at Berkeley, refused. Hynek 
wanted the job to be given to North- 
western University, where he had 
moved in 1 96 1 ; James E. McDonald, 
an atmospheric physicist at the Uni- 
versity of Arizona, wanted it to go to 
his school. Both of the schools were 
ruled out because these two men 
had taken strong public positions on 
the subject of UFOs— Hynek as a 
skeptic and McDonald as a believer 
in their extraterrestrial origins. Five 
months later, the University of Col- 
orado announced it had taken the 
project and Edward U. Condon— 
professor of physics and Fellow of the Joint Institute for Lab- 
oratory Astrophysics - would serve as chairman of the group. 

The sixty-four-year-old Condon was a well-known fig- 
ure. In the late 1920s, after taking his Ph.D. in physics at the 
University of California, he had spent two years in Germany 
working with several of the world's preeminent physicists. He 
had held teaching positions at Princeton and the University of 
Minnesota before becoming associate director of Westing- 

P A 






Edward U. Condon sits behind 
a UFO model and his committee's 
controversial report 
debunking flying saucers. 

house Research Laboratories, and he had 
earned wide respect for his contributions 
to the development of both radar and the 
atomic bomb. After World War II Condon 
had served as the director of the U.S. Bu- 
reau of Standards. 

Thus, there was great optimism on 
all sides as the Condon committee under- 
took to solve the mysteries of UFOs. With 
twelve members who were specialists in 
various fields and the eager cooperation 
of such civilian organizations as NICAP, 
things appeared to be progressing well. 
The committee assembled a library, es- 
tablished investigative teams, and de- 
vised a method to study reported UFO 
sightings. But before long, hopes for an 
objective study evaporated, at least in the 
eyes of UFO enthusiasts. 

Such hopes were dashed largely by 
Condon himself. The day after his ap- 
pointment, he was quoted as saying that 
there was "no evidence that there is advanced life on other 
planets." And just three months later, he irritated his com- 
mittee staff and his critics alike by announcing at a public 
meeting: "It is my inclination right now to recommend that 
the government get out of this business. My attitude right now 
is that there's nothing to it, but I'm not supposed to reach a 
conclusion for another year." To many observers, this did not 
sound like the impartiality that was to have been the principal 
criterion for committee membership. 

Then came the disclosure of what many UFO research- 
ers regarded as a smoking gun— a memorandum written 
while the University of Colorado was considering the air 
force's proposal. In what subsequently became known as the 
"trick" memo, Robert Low— an academic dean who was to 
become project coordinator of the Condon committee— dis- 
cussed how the university might take on the project without 
losing respectability in the academic world. 

"The trick would be, I think," wrote 
Low, "to describe the project so that to the 
public, it would appear a totally objective 
study, but, to the scientific community, 
would present the image of a group of 
nonbelievers trying their best to be objec- 
tive, but having an almost zero expecta- 
tion of finding a saucer." Publication of 
the memo further damaged the commit- 
tee's already damaged credibility and dis- 
rupted its work; the two members who 
had found and discussed the memo were 
fired. NICAP formally withdrew its sup- 
port, and its director, Donald Keyhoe, in- 
dignantly called for a new government 
inquiry and said that NICAP's investiga- 
tions would be intensified to offset what 
he called "the Colorado failure." 

While the Condon investigation 
floundered in controversy, the Congress 
decided to take another, expanded look at 
the subject of UFOs. This was in the form 
of a symposium conducted by the House Committee on Sci- 
ence and Astronautics. One of its members, Representative 
J. Edward Roush of Indiana, had become impressed with the 
arguments of Arizona's James McDonald, who was emerging 
as a leading advocate of the alien-spacecraft hypothesis. 

McDonald was a tireless UFO investigator who lectured 
continually about his conclusions. After studying thousands 
of cases and interviewing hundreds of witnesses, he wrote, 
he had concluded that "the extraterrestrial hypothesis is the 
least unlikely hypothesis to account for the UFO." Influenced 
by McDonald's credentials and reasoning, Congressman 
Roush scheduled the symposium for July 29, 1968, and asked 
McDonald to select the witnesses. 

As a result, the tone of the symposium was far different 
from that of the 1966 hearing. It was addressed by six dis- 
tinguished scientists and academics associated with major 
universities: astronomer J. Allen Hynek, physicist James 


McDonald, sociologist Robert L. Hall, engineers James A. 
Harder and Robert M. Baker, and astrophysicist Carl Sagan. 
They all agreed not to discuss the troubled Condon commit- 
tee or to criticize the beleaguered air force. 

Hynek, the veteran UFO debunker and Blue Book apol- 
ogist, led off with a statement that confirmed his continuing 
change of attitude. The UFO problem, he said, "has been 
made immensely more difficult by the supposition held by 
most scientists, on the basis of the poor data available to 
them, that there couldn't possibly be anything substantial to 
UFO reports in the first place, and hence that there is no point 
to wasting time or money investigating." This, of course, was 
precisely the position that had been held by the air force, and 
by Hynek, for the previous twenty years. 

But this attitude, Hynek now said, was no longer ac- 
ceptable: "Can we afford not to look toward UFO skies; can 
we afford to overlook a potential breakthrough of great sig- 
nificance? And even apart from that, the public is growing 
impatient. The public does not want another 20 years of UFO 
confusion. They want to know whether there really is some- 
thing to this whole UFO business-and I can tell you definitely 
that they are not satisfied with the answers they have been 
getting." Nor was Hynek. He confessed that he had been 

forced to a reluctant conclusion by "the cumulative weight 
of continued reports from groups of people around the 
world whose competence and sanity I have no reason to 
doubt, reports involving unexplainable craft with physical 
effects on animals, motor vehicles, growing plants and on 
the ground." The choice, he now believed, was clear: 
"Either there is a scientifically valuable subset of reports on 
the UFO phenomenon or we have a world society containing 
people who are articulate, sane and reputable in all matters 
save UFO reports." 

Hynek's call for more serious research was echoed by 
McDonald: "My position is that UFOs are entirely real and we 
do not know what they are, because we have laughed them 
out of court. The possibility that these are extraterrestrial 
devices, that we are dealing with surveillance from some 
advanced technology, is a possibility I take very seriously." 
McDonald pleaded for a more strenuous scientific approach 
to the subject, with the involvement of the National Aero- 
nautics and Space Administration. 

James Harder, an engineering professor from the Uni- 
versity of California at Berkeley, was even more blunt in his 
opinion: "On the basis of the data and the ordinary rules of 
evidence, as would be applied in civil or criminal courts, the 

Public skepticism made Condon and his report the butt of several cartoons, including this one by Pat Oliphant. 


ij 1^ 

-t it j til 

physical reality of UFOs has 
been proved beyond a rea- 
sonable doubt." 

There was, of course, 
dissent. Donald H. Menzel, 
the distinguished astrono- 
mer, former director of the 
Harvard College Observa- 
tory, and relentless UFO de- 
bunker, submitted a written 
statement that fairly 
dripped scorn. "The believ- 
ers," he declared, "are too 
eager to reach a decision. 
Having no real logic on their 
side, they resort to innuen- 
do as a weapon and try to 
discredit those who fail to 
support their view." 

Menzel's logic was 
that if alien pilots had been 
"bugging us for centuries," 
as he put it, "why should 
one not have landed and 
shown himself to the Pres- 
ident of the United States, 
to a member of the National 
Academy of Sciences, or at 
least to some member of 

Congress?" Menzel's conclusion about unidentified flying 
objects was unequivocal: "Natural explanations exist for the 
unexplained sightings." 

But the consensus of the symposium was clearly that 
UFOs merited serious study and should be given closer, more 
objective attention. The proceedings, however, had been 
merely a discussion, not a prelude to any congressional ac- 
tion, and had little impact. And five months later the sym- 
posium sank even further into obscurity as the country turned 
its attention to the formal report of the Condon committee. 





Major Hector Quintanilla, Jr., of Project Blue 
Book stands amid supposedly extraterrestrial artifacts that all proved 
earthly. He holds a copper shell filled with radio parts. The 
disks in the foreground are pancakes. 

Despite the contro- 
versy that had dogged its 
preparation, the report ap- 
peared to be an exhaustive 
review of the whole subject 
of UFOs by first-rate scien- 
tists. It was physically im- 
pressive: 1,465 pages 
crammed with charts, pho- 
tographs, and dense aca- 
demic exposition. It 
seemed that no effort had 
been spared; thirty-six au- 
thors had contributed anal- 
yses and explanations, and 
the cost had exceeded half 
a million dollars. 

The National Acade- 
my of Sciences had re- 
viewed the report and an- 
nounced its approval. 
Walter Sullivan, the re- 
spected science reporter for 
the New York Times, wrote 
an admiring introduction in 
which he said: "The report 
is a memorable document. 
While the case histories 
read like detective stories, it 
is also a scientific study." Few people, however, waded 
through the hundreds of pages of analysis. Most read only the 
first section, titled "Conclusions and Recommendations," 
and the second, "Summary of the Report." Both were written 
by Condon himself. 

"Our general conclusion," declared the ever-skeptical 
committee chairman, "is that nothing has come from the 
study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific 
knowledge. Careful consideration of the record leads us to 
conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably can 






December 17, 1969 


NO. 1077-69 

OXford 7-5131 (Info.) 

OXford 7-3189 (Copies) 

Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans, Jr., announced 
today the termination of Project Blue Book, the Air Force program 
for the investigation of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) . 

In December 1969, the Defense 
Department issued a news re- 
lease announcing that the air 
force was disbanding Project 
Blue Book. The document 
marked the formal demise of 
governmental involvement in 
the investigation of unidentified 
flying objects. 

- A review of 
National Academy of 

the University 
Sciences . 

- Past UFO studies. 

- Air Force experience 
two decades . 

not be justified in the expec- 
tation that science will be 
advanced thereby." 

The air force, Condon 
continued, had been cor- 
rect in its handling of UFO 
reports and had never at- 
tempted to conceal its find- 
ings. "It has been contend- 
ed that the subject has been 
shrouded in official secrecy. 
We conclude otherwise. We 
have no evidence of secrecy 
concerning UFO reports. 
What has been miscalled 
secrecy has been no more 
than an intelligent policy of 
delay in releasing data so 
that the public does not be- 
come confused by prema- 
ture publication of incom- 
plete studies of reports." 

In general, the re- 
port—or, more accurately, 
Condon's summary of the 
report— was greeted as the 
authoritative final word on 
the entire UFO controversy. 
Headlines proclaimed that 
"Flying Saucers Do Not Exist- Official" or, more bluntly, 
"UFOs are Bunk." But dissent was quick to appear. On the 
very day the report was released to the public, David R. Saun- 
ders, one of the men fired earlier by Condon for releasing the 
so-called trick memo, published a book titled UFOs? YES! 
Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong. 

Saunders and other critics pointed out that what Con- 
don had written was a summary not of the findings of the 
committee but of his own preexisting beliefs. Among other 
things, Condon ignored the fact that some 30 percent of the 

In a memorandum to Air Force Chief of Staff General John D. Ryan, 
Secretary Seamans stated that "the continuation of Project Blue Book 
cannot be Justified either on the ground of national security or In 
the interest of science," and concluded that the project does not merit 
future expenditures of resources. 

The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on: 

- An evaluation of a report prepared by the University of 
Colorado entitled, "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects." 

of Colorado's report by the 

investigating UFO reports during the past 

Under the direction of Dr. Edward U. Condon, the University of 
Colorado completed an 18-month contracted study of UFOs and its report 
was released to the public in January, 1969. The report concluded that 
little if anything has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years 
that has added to scientific knowledge, and that further extensive 
study of UFO sightings is not Justified in the expectation that science 
will be advanced . 

The University of Colorado report also states that, "It seems that 
only so much attention to the subject (UFOs) should be give as the 
Department of Defense deems to be necessary strictly from a defense point 
of view.... It is our impression that the defense function could be 
performed within the framework established for intelligence and sur- 
veillance operations without the continuance of a special unit such as 
Project Blue Book, but this is a question fo-- defense specialists rather 
than research scientists." 

A panel of the National Academy of Sciences made an independent 
assessment of the scope, methodology, and findings of the University of 
Colorado study. The panel concurred in the University of Colorado's 
recommendation that "no high priority in UFO Investigations is 
warranted by data of the past two decades." It concluded by stating 
that, "On the basis of present knowledge, the least likely explanation 
of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitations by intelligent 

Fast UFO studies include one conducted by a Scientific Advisory 
Panel of UFOs in January, 1953 (Robertson Paoel) ; and, a review of 
Project Blue Book by the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board Ad Hoc 
Committee, February-March, 1966 (Dr. Brian O'Brien, Chairman). These 
studies concluded that no evidence has been found that aoy of the UFO 
reports reflect a threat to our national security. 

As a result of investigating UFO reports since 1948, the 
conclusions of Project Blue Book are: (1) no UFO reported, investi- 
gated, and evaluated by the Air Force has ever given any indication 
of threat to our national security; (2) there has been no evidence 
submitted or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized 
as "unidentified" represent technological developments or principles 
beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge; and (3) there 
has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as "unidenti- 
fied" are extraterrestrial vehicles. 

Project Blue Book records will be retired to the USAF Archives, 
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Requests for information will 
continue to be handled by the Secretary of the Air Force, Office of 
Information (SAFOI), Washington, D.C. 20330. 

ninety-one cases his com- 
mittee analyzed remained 
unsolved. This was a jarring 
statistic in view of the fact 
that Project Blue Book had 
classified as "unidentified" 
only about 5 percent of re- 
ported sightings. Moreover, 
the ninety-one cases had 
been selected from among 
thousands of possibilities, 
presumably with the inten- 
tion of giving each one of 
them intensive— and con- 

Thus the massive 
"Scientific Study of Uniden- 
tified Flying Objects," in 
the end, gave skeptics the 
ammunition they wanted to 
dismiss UFO reports alto- 
gether. At the same time, it 
contained enough loose 
ends and mysteries for en- 
thusiasts of the UFO phe- 
nomenon to continue to 
proclaim that there had 
been bias at best or, at 
worst, a cover-up. 
Apparently, the air force-which, after all, had paid for 
the study-got what it wanted as well. In December 1969 it 
announced that it was disbanding Project Blue Book and, as 
Condon had recommended at the verybeginning of his effort, 
was getting out of the UFO business. The very determined 
would be able to discover thereafter that the Department of 
Defense had given responsibility for future UFO reports to 
something called the Aerospace Defense Command. But to 
the general public, it seemed that the government wanted 
nothing more to do with UFO reports. 



The Enduring Enigma 

t happened on July 20, 1969. A silvery object, twinkling against inky black- 
ness, hurtled through space at an astonishing rate of speed. A small, vaguely 
buglike craft disengaged from the object and descended smoothly, landing in 
a cloud of fine, light-colored dust. A trapdoor inched open; a ladder descend- 
ed, and two humanlike, white-clad figures clambered down. Lumbering about 
the surf ace, they peered this way and that with what appeared to be enormous, 
single, insect eyes that reflected everything before them. 

The creatures— whose names were Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) 
Aldrin— were the first humans to leave their blue-green home planet behind 
and travel to the moon. Space travel, for so long the province of visionaries 
and science-fiction writers, was a fact. Flying objects really were capable of 
visiting alien worlds. It had become slightly less heretical to suggest that space 
travel was not necessarily a one-way street or that reports of anomalous flying 
objects deserved serious scientific study. 

But just as the age of space travel was dawning, the era of the UFO 
seemed to be coming to an end. The Condon report had said there was 
nothing to the persistent stories about UFOs; in 1969 the air force slammed 
shut the doors of Project Blue Book. Meanwhile, the number of sightings had 
dwindled, and the news media seemed to have lost interest. Many people were 
ready to assign the records of the UFO phenomenon to some back shelf. 

During the ensuing two decades, however, only twelve men would visit 
the moon, while thousands of people all over the world would continue to see 
UFOs. In the United States, they would have to wonder where to report their 
sightings. Ignored by the air force, the government, and the scientific estab- 
lishment, these startled and often frightened people would have to seek out 
organizations of interested civilians in order to report what they had seen and 
get information about other UFO sightings. 

Ironically, the resulting investigations would in many cases be more 
complete, and more rigorously conducted, than any the air force had done. 
The 1970s and 1980s would be marked by new themes and directions in UFO 
research, thoughtful new methods for collecting data, fascinating new spec- 
ulations about the nature of the phenomenon, a decreased tolerance for 

automatic acceptance-or automatic debunking-of UFO re- 
ports, and some of the most thoroughly reported and mys- 
tifying sightings and alleged alien encounters on record. 

That the combined weight of the Condon committee and the 
air force was not enough to quash scientific interest in UFOs 
was due in large measure to the enduring curiosity of J. Allen 
Hynek. During his twenty-one-year association with air force 
UFO investigations, he had become increasingly dissatisfied 
with their shortcomings and, in the late 1960s, increasingly 
outspoken in his criticism. 

Nonetheless, while employed by the air force he had 
remained a team player, nudging the service toward better 
performance, all the while collecting evidence and cases that 
eluded explanation. The good cases cried out for serious 
study, he maintained; they needed far more intensive inves- 
tigation by trained scientists than they were getting. The in- 
formation thus gathered 
needed to be standardized, 
shared, and made available 
to manipulation by comput- 
ers so that common at- 
tributes—such things as 
colors, shapes, velocities, 
and geographic concentra- 
tions—could be analyzed. 

Freed of the air force 
connection, secure in his 
position as chairman of 
Northwestern University's 
astronomydepartment, Hy- 
nek began to speak out ever 
more forcefully in the 1 970s 
for better work on UFO re- 
ports. In his 1972 book, The 
UFO Experience, he outlined 
a method for collecting 
complete information 
about sightings— a kind of 

taxonomy of UFO reports. And shortly thereafter, he founded 
an organization, the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), dedi- 
cated to putting his ideas into practice 

In Hynek's scheme, sightings were to be organized into 
six categories. Of lower magnitude were three kinds made at 
a distance: nocturnal lights, daylight disks, and visual sight- 
ings confirmed by radar. An example of the last kind occurred 
near Fairbanks, Alaska, in late 1986, when a Japan Air Lines 
pilot not only saw a strange, illuminated craft approach his 
plane but picked it up on his in-flight radar. Later reports 
showed that Federal Aviation Administration radar on the 
ground had also tracked the UFO in the vicinity of the Japa- 
nese airliner. Hynek also defined three kinds of close-up 
sightings, for which he coined a term that soon became part 
of the language: close encounters. A close encounter of the 
first kind was a sighting made from within 500 feet of the 
object. A sighting was to be labeled the second kind, he 

said, when investigation re- 
vealed some "measurable 
physical effect" on land or 
objects — for example, 
scorched grass, frightened 
animals, malfunctioning 
electrical systems, or 
stalled engines. One such 
event took place in the 
south of France in January 
1981 . A retired man named 
Renato Nicolai reported 
that at 5:00 one evening, a 
metallic object about eight 
feet in diameter landed in 
his backyard. It soon took 
off again, he said, leaving a 
circle about six feet across 
on the ground. Investiga- 
tors from the government- 
sponsored French UFO 
study organization later re- 


ft Hit 

ported that something had deformed the ground by "mass, 
mechanics, a heating effect, and perhaps certain transfor- 
mations and deposits of trace minerals." Most startling of all, 
perhaps, was that the young plants near the circle all lacked 
50 percent of their normal amount of chlorophyll. 

A close encounter of the third kind is a sighting that 
includes allegations of occupants seen in or around the UFO. 
Hynek intended this classification mainly for events where no 
physical contact between the witness and the occupants is 
claimed. For example, scores of people around the world 
have reported seeing a UFO land at a distance and watch- 
ing while occupants watched back or disembarked briefly. 

Hynek was at pains to differentiate encounters of the 
third kind from reports of the so-called 
contactees who say they communicate 
with extraterrestrial creatures regular- 
ly, accompany them on long rides in 
their spacecraft, and return with extra- 
terrestrial messages of cosmic impor- 
tance to humankind. Scientist that he 
was, Hynek viewed such stories as in- 
credible and did not wish to dignify 
them with a category of their own. 

He also devised a strangeness- 
probability chart to determine which 
UFO reports deserved further investi- 
gation. As fanciful as many UFO re- 
ports may seem, they actually contain 
a fairly narrow range of variables. In- 
deed, as Hynek put it, there is even "a 
sort of monotony" to them. Reports of 
bright lights in the sky that move in 
extraordinary ways are common; only 
the reported velocities and maneuvers 
are strange. On the other hand, an ac- 
count of a weird craft that swoops 
down next to an automobile, at which 
point the car's engine stops and its 
lights go out, has several unusual at- 

tributes. So, an investigator, as Hynek showed, can rank UFO 
reports on a somewhat rigorous scale of strangeness. 

Probability can also be scaled, he said, depending most- 
ly on the nature of the witness. An event observed indepen- 
dently by three witnesses of good character and normal be- 
havior is more likely to have occurred than one seen by a 
single witness with a background of erratic activity. If wit- 
nesses pass lie-detector and psychological testing, the prob- 
ability of their report is further raised. Thus, the higher the 
strangeness-probability rating assigned to a UFO report, the 
more worthy it is of additional study. 

Hynek's book may have elevated UFO reporting to a 
new level of sophistication, but interest in UFOs continued to 

fade. As before, the standard response 
of established science (and the estab- 
lished press) to UFO reports was deri- 
sive. Harvard astronomer Donald H. 
Menzel, for example, relishing his 
self -described role as the "man who 
killed Santa Claus," continued his 
single-minded debunking, saying that 
all such reports were foolishness. But 
there were also some new and more 
thoughtful approaches to the subject. 

In 1 972, the same year that Hy- 
nek's book appeared, Cornell Univer- 
sity published the proceedings of a 
1 969 symposium on the UFO phenom- 
enon. Organized under the auspices of 
the American Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science by astronomers 
Carl Sagan and Thornton Page, the 
symposium was controversial, with 
many of the association's members 
claiming that merely to hold a formal 
discussion gave far too much credence 
to UFOs. The proceedings, titled 
UFO's— Scientific Debate, included the 
expected statements from the regular 


debaters: Hynek argued for serious scientific study and Men- 
zel jeered. But there were other points of view as well. 

For example, a University of Chicago sociologist, Robert 
L. Hall, addressed the role that so-called hysterical contagion 
might play in the reporting of UFOs. This explanation, often 
invoked when a wave of sightings occurs, holds that accounts 
of UFOs are self-propagating because they encourage other 
people to imagine similar experiences. While this may con- 
tribute to a large number of sightings, Hall said, "documented 
cases of hysterical contagion," such as the one following 
Orson Welles's 1938 broadcast of a fictional invasion from 
Mars, usually last only a few days. According to Hall, "the 
continuation of UFO reports over at least decades and their 
spread over all parts of the world would both be unprece- 
dented for a case of hysterical contagion." He also pointed 
out that most people will not come forward with reports that 
defy conventional wisdom and expose them to suspicion and 
ridicule. Upon considering the reports that remain unexplain- 
able even after thorough investigation, Hall conclud 
ed that either something is there that physicists 
cannot presently explain or something is 
there that psychologists and social scien- 
tists cannot presently explain. 

Carl Sagan's contribution to the 
symposium was an attack on the belief 
that UFOs are piloted by extraterres- 
trial beings. Applying several logical 
assumptions, Sagan calculated the 
possible number of advanced civili- 
zations capable of interstellar travel 
to be about one million. Continuing 
with what he called his mathematical "enter- 
tainment," he projected that any civilization 

Japan Air lines pilot Kenju Terauchi describes an 
alleged encounter with three UFOs over Alaska 
during a 1 986 J AL flight. Terauchi's sketch (oppo- 
site page) shows how the largest craft dwarfed his 
plane. It also estimates the UFOs' positions rela- 
tive to the plane, and on his radar screen, when 
they were first sighted. 

wishing to check on all the others on a regular basis of, say, 
once a year would have to launch 1 0,000 spacecraft annually. 
Not only does that seem like an unreasonable number of 
launchings, he said, but it would take all the material in one 
percent of the universe's stars to produce all the spaceships 
needed for all the civilizations to seek each other out. 

To argue that the earth was being chosen for regular 
visitations, Sagan said, one would have to assume that the 
planet is somehow unique in all the universe. And that as- 
sumption, he continued, "goes exactly against the idea that 
there are lots of civilizations around. Because if there are lots 
of them around then the development of our sort of civiliza- 
tion must be pretty common. And if we're not pretty common 
then there aren't going to be many civilizations advanced 
enough to send visitors." 

This argument, which some called "Sagan's paradox," 
helped to establish a new school of thought in science: the 
belief that extraterrestrial life exists but has nothing to do 
with UFOs. Sagan, among others, was con- 
vinced that given the number of stars in the 
universe— "billions and billions," as he 
became noted for saying — the odds 
were very high that not just life, not 
just merely intelligent life, but 
highly advanced civilizations 
must exist. He simply doubted 
that emissaries from these 
civilizations were in the 
habit of buzzing remote 
farmhouses or 
touching down 
on desert 

highways, as popular reports so often had them doing. 

The new belief system had a salutary effect on UFO 
studies. It helped separate researchers who wanted to iden- 
tify unidentified flying objects from those who wanted to 
identify the pilots. And it gave scientists opportunities to 
search the universe for intelligent life unencumbered by the 
stigma associated with UFOs. Indeed, the 1970s saw an in- 
creasing amount ofscientific energy applied to what became 
known as SET], the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. 

rowing awareness of the possibility of 
other life in the universe was symbol- 
ically acknowledged in 1972, when the 
United States made a singular gesture 
to its hypothetical neighbors in the gal- 
axy. It sent them a cryptic message, inscribed on a six -inch by 
nine-inch plaque of gold-anodized aluminum affixed to the 
antenna support struts of a space probe dubbed Pioneer 10. 
Another followed the next year on Pioneer 11. Designed by 
Carl and Linda Sagan, the messages provided clues with 
which an alien civilization could figure out where the mes- 
sage came from and what sort of beings sent it. 

By the late 1 980s, the probes had made their silent way 
out of the solar system, past the dark and frigid region in- 
habited by Pluto— wistful messages in bottles cast into a lim- 
itless ocean. There is virtually no chance that these messages 
will find their way to any civilization out there, but they were 
inexpensive and romantic gestures, and they enchanted oth- 
erwise hard-boiled scientists; in 1 980, another space-bound 
probe carried a golden phonograph record containing greet- 
ings from Earth in fifty-four languages. 

Others took a more systematic approach to the search 
for extraterrestrial intelligence. Indeed, one such effort had 
been undertaken as long ago as 1 960 by astronomer Frank 
Drake, then with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. 
Drake was to become, and remain for more than a quarter of 
a century, a leader in the search for what he called the "di- 
amonds of civilization" that he believed must be scattered 
among the far-flung galaxies. The way to find them, he was 
convinced, was to listen to radio. 

The universe is alive with radio transmissions, a con- 
stant buzz of signals given of f by stars, galaxies, and even the 
cosmic dust of interstellar space. These signals are the prod- 
ucts of physical processes, not transmitters, and although 
radio astronomers have learned f rom the signals a great deal 
about their sources, they have found no evidence of any 
deliberate broadcasts. Still, since radio waves travel at the 
speed of light and are easily shaped to carry messages, it 
seems logical to assume that any contact between civiliza- 
tions might first be made by radio. 

But the roar of the heavens is continuous, comes from 
every direction at once, and sprawls across the whole spec- 
trum of radio frequencies. With limited time, equipment, and 
money for listening, choices had to be made. Drake and his 
colleagues thought it reasonable to narrow their search to the 
radio frequencies given off by hydrogen (H), the oxygen- 
hydrogen molecule (OH), and water (H 2 0), since hydrogen is 
the most abundant element in the universe and water is the 
material most basic to life as we know it. Radio astronomers 
refer to the frequency band of these emissions— 1 ,000 to 
40,000 megahertz— as the water hole. 

Drake further limited his initial search to the vicinity of 
two stars that are relatively close and similar in mass to the 
earth's sun. He spent 200 hours gathering signals— the emis- 
sions are so weak that it takes time to accumulate enough 
energy to be distinguishable— and then combed through the 
noise looking for the imprint of intelligence among the ran- 
dom signals. There was no such imprint. 

More modem equipment, such as the enormous radio 
telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, with its twenty acres of 
collecting area, can duplicate Drake's 200-hour search in 
seconds. Since 1960, Drake and his successors have made 
more than a million searches-probes in a single direction, at 
as many frequencies as the receiver can detect- without suc- 
cess. Yet this can hardly be regarded a failure. Given the 
enormous number of possibilities, what has been examined 
so far amounts to only a few stalks in the celestial haystack. 
It has been accomplished with telescope time snatched from 
other projects -such as the search for black holes -that have 


Some ufologists believe these 
topographical oddities mark UFO 
landing sites: mysterious circles 
(left) that appeared in a Hamp- 
shire, England, com field in 
an area called the Devil's Punch- 
bowl, July 1986; a horseshoe- 
shaped ring (below, left) of 
whitish, crystalline soil found 
following a reported UFO sight- 
ing at Delphos, Kansas, in 
1971; a circular patch of dead 
soybean plants (below, right) dis- 
covered in an Iowa soybean 
field after a 1 969 sighting; and 
an oval of flattened reeds (bot- 
tom) in a swamp near Nishikawa- 
cho in northern Japan, found in 
1986 after a night of reported 
electrical disturbances. 


better funding and higher 
probabilities of success. 

Devotees of the search 
earnestly hope for more sub- 
stantial funding and even 
more sophisticated equip- 
ment. In the 1960s they pro- 
posed an ambitious approach 

dubbed Project Cyclops, which involved the construction of 
an array of 1,000 radio telescopes, each with a diameter 
longer than a football field. Operating in unison, they would 
have the power to detect an ordinary television broadcast 
originating hundreds of light years away. But the cost of the 
array was put even at that time at a staggering $ 1 0 billion, and 
it has yet to be built. 

Meanwhile, a number of more modest equipment ad- 
vances have been made, and avid scientists continue to listen 
in to the water hole with the hope that one day something will 
pop out of the meaningless noise and announce that human- 
ity is not alone in the universe. And although such activities 
and hopes may raise the eyebrows of the orthodox, they have 
evoked nothing like the ridicule reserved for people interest- 
ed in UFOs. That derisive commentary would continue to dog 
the search for extraterrestrial intelligence as it proceeded at 
its erratic pace through the 1970s. 

The first major wave of UFO sightings to be reported in the 
United States since 1965 occurred in 1973— coincidentally 
enough, the year after publication of Hynek's book and Sa- 
gan's report and the launching of Pioneer 10. Thousands of 
reports of every imaginable kind of sighting came from every 
part of the country, shattering any hope that the weight of the 
Condon Report and the air force disengagement had crushed 
the UFO phenomenon. Among the most famous cases of this 
wave was a reported close encounter of the third kind that 
happened at Pascagoula, Mississippi; in their account, two 
distraught shipyard workers claimed they had been abduc- 
ted and examined by creatures aboard a UFO. The air force 
conducted an investigation, which it promptly classified. 

An artist conceptualizes Project Cyclops, a 
cluster of huge radio telescope antennae. This project to search out 
intelligent extraterrestrial life was never begun. 

Seven days later, on October 
18, a close encounter that be- 
came just as famous was re- 
ported and— because of the 
technical sophistication of the 
subjects— was much more dif- 
ficult to dismiss. A crew of 

three under the command of 

Army Reserve Captain Lawrence J. Coyne took a Bell UH-1H 
helicopter on a routine flight between Columbus and Cleve- 
land, Ohio. At about 10:30 p.m., a crew member spotted a red 
light to the east that seemed to be flying at the same altitude 
and speed as the helicopter. He notified Coyne, who said, 
"Keep an eye on it." The crew tried to call air traffic control, 
but their radio would not transmit. Suddenly the light ap- 
proached at a "terrifically fast" speed, an estimated 700 miles 
per hour. "It's going to ram us," Coyne remembered thinking. 
"Oh God, this is it!" He seized the controls and tried to de- 
scend. Swiftly they dropped below the object— which, to their 
astonishment, had stopped dead in the air and was now 
hovering over them in the clear, starlit sky. 

"It was shaped like a fat cigar," said Coyne later, and 
had "a big, gray, metallic-looking hull about sixty feet long." 
In front was a glowing red light, on the center section a dome, 
and to the rear both a white and a green light. Presently, the 
green light aft swiveled like a spotlight. "It was shining bright- 
ly through the bubble canopy . . . turning everything inside 
green," Coyne recalled. 

Then the object turned abruptly and accelerated toward 
the horizon, its white rear light winking out. Coyne insisted 
that he had the controls set for descent but the chopper was 
in fact rising— at a rate of 1 ,000 feet per minute for about 1 00 
seconds. Also, his compass was spinning wildly (and had to 
be replaced later). When the crew regained control over the 
helicopter, the radio began to transmit again, and they went 
on to land at Cleveland. Each crew member filed a separate 
Operation Hazard Report with the FAA. 

Subsequent investigations turned up no conventional 
explanation for the sighting. Coyne stuck to his story but at 


the same time said, "I don't believe in UFOs." Some local 
commentators theorized that the UFO was a spaceship that 
had somehow canceled out gravity locally, causing the chop- 
per to rise despite its own controls. Meanwhile, the tirelessly 
skeptical Philip Klass suggested that the crew had been mes- 
merized by a fireball associated with the Orionid meteor 
showers— which are common that time of year and in 1973 
peaked on October 2 1 , three days after the incident— and that 
the entire event had taken only seconds rather than the four 
minutes reported by the crew. 

The air f orce managed to keep its distance f rom — and its 
silence on— the subject of UFOs during the extensive flap, 

which finally dwindled away in 1974. But it could not put an 
end to its involvement with the bedeviling lights in the sky. In 
fact, with what almost seemed like deliberate perversity, the 
next UFO controversy was focused on air force bases. 

On October 27, 1975, Staff Sergeant Danny Lewis was 
on security duty at Loring Air Force Base in Maine, near the 
Canadian border. His mission was to patrol the munitions 
storage area, which was dotted with igloolike huts containing 
nuclear weapons. At 7:45 p.m. Sergeant Lewis spotted an 
aircraft flying low along the northern edge of the base. Its 
altitude was about 300 feet. As he watched it enter the re- 
stricted air space over the base, he noted that it bore a red 

The radio telescope atArecibo, Puerto Rico, began operating in 1974 with a message beamed to stars 24,000 light years away. 


light and a blinking white strobe. At about this time, the 
control tower picked up a radar image of an aircraft some ten 
miles northeast of the base. Attempts to contact it by radio 
failed as the craft neared the base, circling low above the 
storehouse containing nuclear warheads. Alarms sounded as 
the base was put on alert. Security police began to scour the 
weapons storage area for intruders, while the tower kept the 
craft— presumably a helicopter— under radar surveillance. 
Abruptly, the craft stopped circling and disappeared. 

The next night, a craft displaying a white flashing light 
and an amber light was observed, for thirty-five minutes, 
north of the base by Lewis and several other security officers. 
The sighting also was confirmed by radar. At one point the 
object, hovering 150 feet above the runway, shut off its 
lights and reappeared 150 feet above the munitions dump. A 
B-52 flight crew on the ground later reported they had ob- 
served a red and orange object in the air nearby. Shaped like 
a stretched-out football, it hovered, disappeared, and then 
reappeared, moving jerkily. The crewmen said they leaped 
into their truck and drove to within 300 feet of the object; it 
seemed to be about five feet off the ground and four car 
lengths long. One of the crew said later: "There were these 
waves in front of the object, and all the colors were blending 
together. The object was solid, and we could not hear any 
noise coming from it." 

Suddenly the base came to life with sirens and lights. 
The object's lights went out and it streaked toward Canada, 
tracked briefly by radar as it went. The next night, National 
Guard helicopters were deployed to track any intruding craft, 
but during the next few weeks, there were only occasional 
reports and radar sightings. Whenever the base helicopters 
went to the place where ground personnel were seeing or 
hearing the object, they found nothing. 

Some of these events were reported in the local press, 
along with a number of UFO sightings by civilian residents of 
the area. But most of the official account remained unread 
by the public until the 1 980s, when two UFO researchers, 
Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood, extracted some 
documents from the air force by invoking the Freedom of 

A High-Level Sighting 

One fall evening in 1969, 
Georgia governor Jimmy 
Carter was outdoors pre- 
paring for a speech in the 
little town of Leary when 
he— and about a dozen other 
witnesses— spotted a bright 
object in the western sky. Cart- 
er described it as self-luminous, 
about the size of the moon, and 
sometimes stationary, sometimes 
moving forward and backward. He 
took it to be a UFO and reported the 
sighting to the National Investigations 
Committee on Aerial Phenomena. 

Several years later, when Carter was 
president of the United States, his sci- 
ence advisor suggested to NASA that a 
new investigation of UFOs be launched 
The space agency declined. 


Information Act, which provides broad public access to 
government records. They also discovered that another, even 
more bizarre event had been reported on October 27, the 
night Sergeant Lewis first saw the object at Loring. 

That evening, two young men, David Stephens and Glen 
Gray, were driving along a road about forty miles from Loring 
when, they said, their car was seized by an "unknown force" 
and whisked at well over 1 00 miles per hour to a field eleven 
miles away in the town of Poland, Maine. There the terrified 
men saw two bright lights: a truck, they thought. Then a 
cigar-shaped object about 1 00 yards long with red, blue, and 
green lights rose into the air from the field, and the two men 
drove away in f ear. But when they looked back f rom a quarter 
of a mile away, they reported later, a bright light struck their 
car and they blacked out, reawakening hours afterward. 

They tried to flee, only to lose control of the car again. 
The UFO then propelled them to the vicinity of a pond, where 
it was joined by two other craft. In moments all three objects 
disappeared. The hour was almost dawn. 

The men soon noticed that their hands and feet were 
swollen and their teeth were loose. They also had severe 
chills, and red rings had appeared around their necks. Later, 
a doctor, Herbert Hopkins of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, 
treated Stephens with hypnosis in order to discover what 
had occurred during the missing time. Stephens recalled 
that he had been in a dome-shaped room when a humanlike 
creature entered. 

"He was four and a half feet tall, dressed in a dark robe," 
Stephens said. "His head was shaped like a big lightbulb. He 
had slanted eyes, no hair, and no mouth." In due course, five 
such beings put Stephens on a table and examined him, using 
a machine with an extension arm. They took skin, blood, and 
hair samples and injected him with a brown liquid they said 
was a sedative. When Stephens eventually woke up, he found 
himself in his car next to his friend. 

Aside from the symptoms reported by the two men, 
there was no evidence to support their dramatic story, al- 
though it would at length be seen to fit an emerging pattern 
in such accounts of close encounters of the third kind. In fact, 

a similar encounter allegedly took place a week later-this 
time on the other side of the continent. 

On November 5, 1 975, seven men were driving a pickup 
truck near Heber, Arizona, when they spotted an object hov- 
ering near the road, about fifteen feet off the ground. They 
stopped to look. One of the men, twenty-two-year-old Travis 
Walton, got out and approached the object. Suddenly, the 
men reported, a beam of light flashed from the UFO, struck 
Walton in the chest, and sent him sprawling ten feet back. His 
companions fled. They returned shortly afterward, when the 
UFO lifted off and disappeared, but Walton was gone. 

ot until November 10, five days after 
the reported sighting, did Walton reap- 
pear, claiming he had been taken on 
board the craft and examined twice by 
small humanoids with large hairless 
heads, whitish skin, and oval eyes. Later, he said, he found 
himself on a road twelve miles from his abduction point, 
watching the UFO disappear overhead. 

Researchers were quick to note the similarities in de- 
scriptions of aliens claimed to have been seen at different 
times and places by different observers. Meanwhile, another 
pattern— one involving the appearance of UFOs at Strategic 
Air Command installations— was also becoming apparent. 

Three days after the first sighting at Loring, for example, 
much the same thing occurred over Wurtsmith Air Force Base 
in Michigan. Unknown craft with white and red lights were 
seen approaching. The base was put on alert, and a pilot was 
ordered to check out a reported UFO over the munitions 
dump. He spotted the object and, while pursuing it at a dis- 
tance of only one mile, verified it on his radar before it zipped 
over Lake Huron. "I know this might sound crazy," he re- 
ported (in a memorandum dictated four years later, in 1979), 
"but I would estimate that the UFO sped away from us doing 
approximately 1 ,000 knots [1,150 miles per hour J." 

One week later, an alarm went off at Malmstrom Air 
Force Base in Montana, the site of launching facilities for 
Minuteman missiles, and the electronic warning apparatus 
flagged one missile site. A Sabotage Alert Team (SAT) headed 


immediately for the site, reporting by radio that they saw a 
glowing orange disk the size of a football field hovering over 
the area. It began to rise, and North American Air Defense 
Command radar picked it up when it reached an altitude of 
1 ,000 feet. Two F- 1 06 jet fighters were dispatched from Great 
Falls, Montana, to intercept the craft, but before the fighters 
arrived, it disappeared from the radar screens. 

On November 8, there were more sightings— both vi- 
sual and electronic— over the base. According to SAT teams, 
each time the F-106 jets screamed into the area, the UFOs 
shut off their lights, which reappeared only after the jets left. 
In the next eight months, 1 30 similar reports were logged at 
the base and in the surrounding county. 

The air force had a ready explanation for the UFO re- 
ports: The intruders were helicopters. There was no expla- 
nation, however, of how or why they had breached base 
security, nor was there discussion of how so many experi- 
enced air force personnel— highly trained, carefully screened, 
with heavy responsibilities for the nation's missile def enses— 
had been fooled by ordinary helicopters. 

Unsurprisingly, the official explanation did not satisfy 
some people who had first-hand knowledge of the events. 
One helicopter pilot who had been on alert at Malmstrom said 
later: "People were reporting a craft at low level they thought 

was a helicopter. . . . Well, the weather was so bad when the 
report came in that it would have been impossible to fly a 
helicopter, with the icing and so forth. We couldn't fly, but this 
craft had no trouble flying in this weather." 

The Strategic Air Command-base incidents ended, as 
had so many others, with some people fascinated by the 
reports, others dissatisfied with the official explanation, and 
no one sure exactly what had happened. Soon, however, 
more data would become available, and more investigators 
would be enlisted in the effort to solve the UFO mystery. 

In the mid-1970s, usually under pressure from suits filed un- 
der provisions of the Freedom of Information Act by small, 
private UFO groups, various branches of the government re- 
leased information about previous sightings and investiga- 
tions. Numerous documents began to appear in public from 
such organizations as the CIA, the State Department, the 
Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. These 
records indicated that the government had taken a more 
serious and widespread look than had been previously ad- 
mitted. The new information added credibility to some long- 
forgotten sightings and attracted the attention of some new- 
comers to the study of the UFO phenomenon. 

One of those whose interest was piqued was Bruce 


Some earthly flying objects may appear alien. At left, what looks like a 
Star Trek-inspired fantasy is really an unmanned NASA research craft. A British- 
made remote-controlled helicopter (below) could leave landing 
marks similar to some described by UFO witnesses. 

Maccabee, a research physicist and teacher at American Uni- 
versity in Washington, D.C. Maccabee- who in 1979 founded 
an organization called the Fund for UFO Research- was out- 
raged by the seemingly cavalier attitude scientists had taken 
toward UFOs. "Although the sighting information is now 
available," he would observe, "it has been largely ignored" 
by the scientific community. "Evidently there is a general 
feeling that the 'UFO problem' was put to sleep long ago." 

Seeking to remedy what he saw as the failings of most 
scientists, Maccabee took to debunking the UFO debunkers. 
Among his favorite targets was the skeptic Donald Menzel, 
who had proposed natural explanations, some of them tor- 
tuous, for any UFO report he came across. For some he of- 
fered several explanations— as he did for Kenneth Arnold's 
famous 1 947 sighting, which marked the start of the modem 
UFO phenomenon in America. 

As Menzel had it, the array of saucers that Arnold spot- 
ted was an illusion created by "billowing blasts of snow bal- 
looning up from the tops of 
ridges" on Mount Rainier, re- 
flecting the sun like a mirror. 
But Maccabee— knowledge- 
able about atmospheric op- 
tics—determined that such 
snow clouds do not reflect the 
sun anywhere near as brightly 
as a mirror. He also pointed 
out that there were no winds 
sufficient to propel the clouds 
at the estimated speed of the 
objects— between 1,200 and 
1,700 miles per hour. 

Lest the snow-cloud hy- 
pothesis fail to stand up, Men- 
zel had proffered no fewer 
than six other atmospheric ex- 
planations for the sighting. But 
Maccabee proceeded to refute 
every one. "The UFO phenom- 

enon," he wrote in conclusion, "is considered to be a trivial 
scientific problem, and therefore any explanation is accept- 
able to the science community." 

While such figures as J. Allen Hynek and Maccabee 
pressed for more serious and objective study of unidentified 
flying objects, other scientists trotted out new hypotheses to 
explain the entire phenomenon. Some argued that it was a 
psychological problem; it was said, for example, that most 
people who observe UFOs are presumably status deficient, 
meaning that their position in life does not measure up to 
their expectations and that reporting sightings may give them 
gratifying importance. Others observed in rebuttal that this 
perceived syndrome is greatly overstated and, in any case, 
has no firm link to UFO sightings. 

While scientists sought an acceptable, natural expla- 
nation for the UFO phenomenon, the more avid UFO enthu- 
siasts strained to pinpoint the origins of the presumptive pi- 
lots of the ships. Some believers, expanding considerably on 

the old legends of lost At- 
lantis—and departing widely 
from mainstream ufologists— 
proposed that UFOs belong to 
an undersea civilization as yet 
undetected by oceanographic 
exploration. Others speculat- 
ed that the vehicles come from 
a hollow portion of the earth 
that geophysicists are confi- 
dent does not exist. Still others 
suggested the UFOs are pilot- 
ed by creatures living nearby 
in space but capable of hiding 
in thin air— or, to use the mod- 
ern jargon, in hyperspace. 

Other explanations seek 
to link UFOs and international 
politics. Jacques Vallee, a 
French computer scientist 
who became interested in 


UFOs in the early 1960s, has proposed a fanciful conspiracy 
theory that attributes the entire phenomenon to an interna- 
tional organization that has been operating in deep secrecy 
since the end of World War II. According to Vallee's elaborate 
scenario, this singular agency uses something called psycho- 
tronic technology— a combination of hypnotism and sugges- 
tion—to preprogram susceptible people to have UFO expe- 
riences. (At rhe same time, Vallee maintains that UFOs are 
real ) The purpose, as Vallee tells the tale, is to bring about 
major social change and avoid World War IIL 

allee's perceived plot is a variation of the 
theory that UFOs are sophisticated weap- 
ons being developed by one of the great 
powers. The Cash -Land rum incident of 
1 9S0-in which the UFO was reportedly 
surrounded by what appeared to be U.S. military helicop- 
ters—raised this issue again. And so did a mysterious event 
that took place at about the same time in a British woodland. 
Shrouded in secrecy for some time, it gradually became one 
of the better publicized cases of a purported close encounter 
of the second— and perhaps third— kind. 

Rendlesham Forest, near Ipswich in East Anglia, is a 
fourteen-square-mile expanse of pines managed by the Brit- 
ish Forestry Commission for both timber harvesting and rec- 
reation. It is a damp place, the forest floor lushly blanketed by 
ferns. The area around it is, for Great Britain, sparsely pop- 
ulated, its largest settlements being the town of Woodbridge, 
west of the forest; the Woodbridge Royal Air Force Base, on 
the forest's western boundary with its main runway extend- 
ing into the heart of Rendlesham; and the Bentwaters Royal 
Air Force Base, four miles away, just north of the forest. 

The Bentwaters and Woodbridge bases were leased 
to the U.S. Air Force as part of the defense network of the 
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. The British 
base commander acted merely as a caretaker; operations at 
both bases were under the control of an American colonel 
and his deputy. 

Reports on the events of the night of December 27, 

1980— if indeed that was the night they occurred— were 
pieced together later by a few investigators. The story re- 
mains murky, with the contradictory testimony providing 
footing as precarious as that found in the bogs that surround 
Rendlesham Forest. 

A memorandum written more than two weeks after the 
event by the deputy base commander, Charles I. Halt, (and 
extracted from the air force much later by a request under the 
Freedom of Information Act) details the parts of the story on 
which there is little disagreement. Around 3:00 a.m. on De- 
cember 27, wrote Halt, "two USAF security police patrol- 
men saw unusual lights outside the back gate at RAF Wood- 
bridge. Thinking an aircraft might have crashed or been 
forced down, they called for permission to go outside the gate 
to investigate." Permission was granted. 

Apparently a local farmer also saw a bright light go 
down into the forest at this time, assumed it was an aircraft, 
and called the security police at Bentwaters. A three-man 
patrol went out to investigate the odd light, which was still 
visible. When they approached the light they found a UFO. 
This was attested to by an American airman— who later said 
he was present and who insisted on anonymity yet identified 
himself as the acting commander of security at the base. 

"The thing had a pulsating red light on top of it, and 
several blue lights underneath it," the informant told a civil- 
ian investigator. "Every time we got close to it, it would move 
away from us through the trees, then we'd try to catch up to 
it again." Colonel Halt, notified of the situation by radio, soon 
arrived with more help. 

Members of the security force brought up portable 
floodlights operatedby gasoline-powered generators; the en- 
gines would not start. As the search continued in the dark 
forest, the men came across what the nameless informant 
described as "a yellow mist on the ground, like nothing I'd 
everseen before." They also heard a commotion from some 
animals on a nearby farm. And then they saw the UFO. 

"Suddenly the object was just there," recalled the in- 
formant. "It was a dark silver-colored metal, with plenty of 
rainbow-colored lights on it. It was a tremendous size. We 


Watchers at flie Windows 

The Yakima Indians have a legend 
lhat. in ages past, a red-eyed man with 
great healing powers came to live with 
the tribe, In due course he grew old, 
and one day he asked the Indians to 
take him to a particular place where 
he wished to die. Soon after his death, 
an object from the sky set down on the 
earth, took his body on board, and 
flew back into the heavens. 

This story may be only a quaint bit of 
folklore, but some ufologists think oth- 
erwise. They contend that the Yakima 
Indian Reservation, a million acres of 
rugged terrain in south central Wash- 

ington state, is a so-called window— a 
location frequented by unidentified fly- 
ing objects. In recent years, a number 
of researchers have conducted studies 
at Yakima and other window sites in 
hopes of documenting and explaining 
the elusive lights and disks that seem 
to appear there. 

The Yakima reservation is five miles 
south of Mount Rainier, where Ken- 
neth Arnold's flying saucer sighting in 
1947 started the modern UFO contro- 
versy. Between the years 1964 and 
1984, there were 186 reports of UFO 
sightings on the reservation. Most of 

these came from fire lookouts, whose 
task it was to watch over the area's 
vast forests. In the main, their stories 
concerned red-orange or white noctur 
nal lights that behaved erratically, 
sometimes hovering, sometimes skit- 
tering about the sky with an agility be 
lying terrestrial origin. 

Intrigued by the reservation's mys- 
tery, the noted astronomer and UFO 
investigator J. Allen Hynek acquired 
backing for a study of the Yakima phe 
nomena. Heading the project was an 
electrical engineer and volunteer UFO 
investigator by the name of David 

The leader of a window watch in Norway, LeifHavik, sits outside a shelter 
used by field researchers in the snow-covered Hessdalen Valley. Around him are 
cameras used to capture some of the lights appearing in the area. 


Akers. His equipment included a vari- 
ety of cameras for both motion and 
still shots, one of which was fitted with 
a grating to analyze light wavelengths. 
He also had a magnetometer to record 
changes in magnetic fields, as well as 
instruments for measuring nuclear and 
infrared radiation and ultrasound fre- 
quencies. Akers began a two-week 
stakeout of the reservation on August 
19, 1972. During that period he man- 
aged to get several still photographs of 
distant, anomalous lights, but the im- 
ages were indistinct. However spirited 
it may have been, the work at the Ya- 
kima site was inconclusive. 

The same could be said for Project 
Identification, a far more 
elaborate window watch 
centering on the town of 
Piedmont, Missouri. The 
project was initiated by 
physics professor Harley 
D. Rutledge of Southeast 
Missouri State Universi- 
ty. Curious about a rash 
of UFO sightings in Pied- 
mont early in 1973, Rut- 
ledge visited the town 
and saw twelve of the 
mysterious celestial 
lights himself. The even- 
tual result of his experi- 
ence there was a seven- 
year study that began in 
1 973 and involved a total 
of forty scientists, engi- 
neers, students, and lay- 
people, along with near- 
ly $40,000 worth of 
equipment- everything that David 
Akers had used at the Yakima reserva- 
tion and more. 

Along with sophisticated cameras, 
the gear brought to Piedmont included 
four telescopes, a spectrum analyzer, 
and a gravimeter, which could be used 
to measure changes in gravitational 
field strength. Project Identification 
registered 1 57 sightings involving 1 78 
UFOs. Professor Rutledge claimed to 
have made 1 60 personal sightings. But 
again, for all their labor, the research- 
ers came away rich in long-distance 
photographs but poor in new knowl- 
edge about the nature and origin of 
unidentified flying objects. 

Windows at overseas locations have 

been equally grudging with their se- 
crets. In a two-part study spanning 
two weeks each in 1984 and 1985, 
hardy Scandinavian researchers 
braved the arctic night to probe re- 
ports of UFOs over the Hessdalen Val- 
ley of Norway, five miles below the 
Arctic Circle. In December 1981, villag- 
ers there began seeing scores of 
strange objects in the sky. During a 
five-week period in January and Febru- 
ary 1984, they reported as many as 188 
sightings of amorphous lights, ovals, 
and cigar-shaped objects. 

Like the Piedmont researchers, 
Project Hessdalen crew members were 
well equipped, having, among other 

These mysterious lights were 
photographed by Lei/Havik at 
Hessdalen two years before 
Project Hessdalen officially began. 

items, radar and seismographic gear. 
They managed to pick up several UFOs 
on their radar, even when the objects 
themselves were not visible in any 
other way, and got some long-distance 
photographs. The crew also reported 
strange lights that had no discernible 
source. There was, for instance, a 
laser-thin red light that moved along 
the snow at ground level, playing 
around the feet of a villager who had 
been helping the crew, bef ore it sud- 
denly died out. Again, however, the 

window watch fell short of identifying 
the local phenomena or explaining 
why unidentified flying objects seem to 
congregate in certain places. 

While all this research was going on, 
a theory was advanced to explain not 
only windows but UFOs in general. 
Largely the brain child of Canadian 
psychophysiologist Michael A. Persin- 
ger, the theory proposed that geophy- 
sical processes that are associated 
with faults— or subsurface cracks in 
the earth's crust— created "earth 
lights" mistaken by some people for 
spaceships. Persinger posited that tec- 
tonic activity— underground movement 
of the earth along fault lines (Yakima, 
Piedmont, and Hessda- 
len are all located in 
fault zones)— compress- 
es quartz crystals in 
rock, thereby releasing 
a form of energy known 
as piezoelectricity. This 
in turn, said Persinger, 
could produce balls of 
light capable of long 
duration and unpredict- 
able behavior. More- 
over, the theory went, 
the same energy could 
interfere with electrical 
impulses in the human 
brain, leading some 
people to misinterpret 
earth lights as UFOs. 
Many scientists, howev- 
er, doubt the capacity 
of compressed quartz 
to produce enough en- 
ergy to mimic unidentified flying ob- 
jects. Also in question is whether the 
electricity could influence thought pro- 
cesses to any marked degree. 

Window watchers also discount the 
Persinger theory. Rutledge has said 
that earth lights could not have consti- 
tuted even one percent of the sightings 
recorded at Piedmont. Hessdalen is 
riddled with faults, but researchers 
there recorded no seismic activity dur- 
ing the project. 

Intriguingly, researchers at all three 
of the window projects felt they were 
not just observing the UFOs but inter- 
reacting with them too. There were 
reports of objects that seemed to react 
to their being watched with binoculars 


or telescopes or having lights shined at 
them. Sometimes the mysterious ob- 
jects allegedly flashed their own lights 
in apparent response or disappeared 
suddenly, as though they were shy of 
being scrutinized, U was even said that 
some of the UFOs seemed to know, 
perhaps through intercepting radio 
messages or through telepathy, the 
schedules of the watchers. 

As Professor Rutledge maintained in 
his summing up of the Piedmont ex- 
periment: "More was involved than 
the measurement of physical proper- 
ties of UFOs by dispassionate observ- 
ers. A relationship, a cognizance, be- 
tween us and the UFO intelligence 
evolved. A game was played." 

At the Yakima reservation, a sixty-second 
dme exposure fright) shows one UFO in 
sJiQrt bursts of motion from left lo right; 
a light (below) seen from Piedmont, Mis- 
souri, was reported to have hovered for 
thirty minutes before it sped away. 

were ordered to form a perimeter around the object at about 
fifteen-foot intervals between patrol members." Two British 
police officers, apparently investigating the strange lights, 
were off to one side taking photographs. The informant said 
that, on orders of Colonel Halt, he and another airman con- 
fiscated the film from the cameras. Meanwhile, two air force 
security officers continuously took pictures, he said. 

After about half an hour, the craft vanished. "It was 
gone in a flash," said the alleged witness, "almost like it just 
disappeared. When it left, we were hit by a cold blast of wind 
which blew toward us for five or ten seconds. It was a really 
scary feeling. My life actually passed in front of my eyes." 

"Thenextday," Colonel Halt'slatermemo continued in 
itssecond paragraph, "three depressions 1 x h inches deep and 
7 inches in diameter were found where the object had been 
sighted on the ground." Other observers told of scorched 
treetops in the area and damaged lights off the end of the 
nearby runway. "Later in the night," Colonel Halt went on, "a 
red sun-like light was seen through the trees. It moved about 
and pulsed. At one point it appeared to throw off glowing 
particles and broke into five separate white objects and then 
disappeared. Numerous individuals, including the under- 
signed, witnessed the activities in paragraphs 2 and 3." 

hus Colonel Halt denied that hehad seen 
the UFO itself. It was also denied that the 
base commander, Colonel Gordon Wil- 
liams, was even present. But persistent 
rumors would later have it that Colonel 
Halt had not only ordered the craft guarded and protected 
from photographers, but also that Colonel Williams had met 
and talked with three occupants of the craft who stood before 
him enveloped in shafts of light. They were— or so the stories 
went— about three feet tall. As surprising allegations came to 
light, investigators tried to account for the extraordinary re- 
ports—in the face of official denials or silence. One sugges- 
tion was that the alien craft had crashed, that the air force 
personnel had been there while the craft was repaired and 
watched it depart. Another was that the craft had been taken 
by the air force and shipped secretly back to the United States. 

Much later, an American UFO investigator associated 
with the private Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), Raymond 
Boeche, obtained documents related to the incident, includ- 
ing Halt's memo, and took them to Nebraska's Senator J. 
James Exon, who was at the time a member of the Senate 
Armed Services Committee. The senator agreed— somewhat 
reluctantly, Boeche thought— to look into the matter. 

Later, according to Boeche, Senator Exon's staff told 
him the senator had indeed spent a great deal of time calling 
and writing people, including Colonel Halt. A staff member 
reportedly told Boeche, "I think he talked to just about ev- 
erybody in DOD [Department of Defense] that there was to 
talk to. I've never seen him do the whole thing himself like 
this— it's just unusual." Whatever the senator found, he ev- 
idently never discussed it with his staff or anyone else. He told 
Boeche merely that there was "no government cover-up." 

No cover-up of what? What did occur at Rendlesham 
Forest? To some ufologists, of course, it remains— and will 
always remain— an officially confirmed UFO landing and 
alien contact. Not long after news of the incident first ap- 
peared in a British tabloid in the fall of 1983, the British sci- 
ence writer Ian Ridpath conducted an on-the-scene investi- 
gation that suggested a more ordinary explanation. 

According to Ridpath, who was shown around the area 
by a local forester, those who reported having seen a flashing 
UFO were in fact staring into the brilliant beam of a light- 
house, five miles away on the Suffolk coast. From the site of 
the alleged landing, observed Ridpath, the beam seemed to 
move and hover just a few feet off the ground, and its light 
seemed to be only a few hundred yards away. As for the 
so-called landing marks left behind by the departing craft, 
Ridpath's forester guide -who had seen shallow depres- 
sions-said that he had recognized them as rabbit diggings. 
The supposed burns on nearby trees were identified as resin- 
blotched axe cuts made by foresters to mark trees for har- 
vesting. Ridpath also checked local police records and found 
that the event had actually occurred the night before the date 
given in Halt's memo, written two weeks afterward. And on 
the night of the incident, Ridpath discovered, an excep- 


Meier lived in 2 $ mes - 

/n o W fer space*, ? ere shot 

Severs «nw /n< "y *>e- 

/a*« „r at h,s Pictures, if 
J<*es, are remarkably c/ev er. 


Trial by Computer 

Mrs. Paul Trent was feeding rabbits in 
her backyard when the saucer 
appeared. According to the McMinn- 
ville, Oregon, woman, she glanced up 
from her task on the evening of May 
1 1 , 1950, to see a huge, metallic disk 
gliding silently through the overcast 
sky. She called her husband, fetched a 
camera, and watched as he snapped 
two pictures of the craft before it ac- 
celerated into the west. 
Those two photographs became fa- 

mous in the annals of ufology. For de- 
cades afterward they were scrutinized 
by a variety of investigators ranging 
from U.S. Air Force officials to Life 
magazine photographers. Most of 
those who studied the pictures agreed 
with the conclusions of 1969's skepti- 
cal Condon Report: "The simplest, 
most direct interpretation of the photo- 
graphs confirms precisely what the 
witnesses said they saw." More 
recently, William H. Spaulding of 
Ground Saucer Watch Inc., a group de- 
voted to the scientific study of UFOs, 
has subjected the pictures to a com- 
puter analysis that yielded even more 
evidence about the much-handled 

photographs -evidence that seems to 
indicate that they are not a hoax. 

Spaulding and his colleagues have 
used their computer to study more 
than 1 ,000 UFO photos, including the 
Trent pictures. First, they scan each 
photograph with a television-type 
camera that breaks the picture down 
into almost a quarter of a million pix- 
els, or picture cells. The scanner mea- 
sures the brightness of each pixel and 
assigns it a numerical rating. These 
values are entered into the computer's 
memory; the original picture can then 
be reproduced and manipulated on a 
computer screen. 

Formerly difficult feats are easy with 
the computer. A technician can identi- 
fy two points on the screen and ask 
the computer to calculate the exact 
distance between them, using a pro- 
gram that analyzes known points of 
reference in the photo. The user can 
also enlarge tiny details, revealing 
in some cases the telltale Fnsbee 
trademark on a supposed UFO. Per- 

One of Paul Trent's 1 9SO snapshots (left) 
reveals the UFO's turrctcd form. Edge cn- 
hancernent (below) brings out the odd 
shape (and scratches in the negative}; 
color contouring (bottom) confirms the 
three-dimensional nature. 


The second Trent photo (above) contains 
the classic disklike shape of a UFO but 
yields few details. Computerized edge en- 
hancement (right) shows that the object 
had no supporting wires, and color con- 
touring (far right) highlights its flat, 
evenly lit bottom. 

haps most useful is the computer's 
ability to stretch color values, brighten- 
ing or darkening individual pixels to 
bring out details. 

Among the many tests investigators 
applied to the Trent photos were two 
kinds of stretching procedures. The 
first was edge enhancement, which 
sharpens subtle details in pictures by 
increasing contrast in adjoining pixels. 
This technique often brings out sup- 
porting wires and other hidden devices 
in faked UFO pictures: For example, 
the computer can detect a string with 
a diameter of .009 inch at a distance of 
up to ten f eet. 

The second procedure, called color 
contouring, involves assigning thirty 
discrete colors to the shades of gray in 
the original photo. An object's indis- 

tinct patterns of highlights and shad- 
ows, vividly transformed by the pro- 
cess, can tell investigators much about 
its actual shape, material, and density. 
A cloud can thus be distinguished from 
a solid craft, and a flat cutout from a 
three-dimensional shape. 

The Trent photos passed Spaulding's 
test with high marks. Edge enhance- 
ment showed the UFO was not sus- 
pended by a string from overhead 
wires, as some skeptics had suggested. 
Color contouring indicated a three- 
dimensional shape with a flat, evenly 

lit underside. Further comparisons of 
the UFO with objects in the foreground 
seemed also to confirm that it was at 
least one kilometer away and about 
twenty to thirty meters in diameter. 
Although some questions still stand 
about the time of day (the shadows 
seem to indicate morning rather than 
evening sun) and the general veracity 
of the witnesses (who had claimed 
UFO sightings before), Spaulding and 
his associates believe that the Trents' 
snapshots may in fact be that rarity- 
genuine UFO photographs. 


A Faheiy Exposed 

Paul Villa's handsome saucer photo- 
graphs, long suspected of being fakes 
(page 89), may have received their 
deathblow at the hands of William 
Spaulding and his Ground Saucer 
Watch technology. Villa claimed to 
have seen a seventy-foot- wide space- 
craft many times near Albuquerque, 
New Mexico, and to have spoken to its 
attractive, seven-foot-tall inhabitants. 
They told him they had come on a 
peaceful mission from the constella- 
tion of Coma Berenices; earth people 
had not discovered them because their 

spaceships possessed antiradar devic- 
es. By 1963, Villa says, he was on such 
friendly terms with the aliens that they 
posed their ship for his camera. 

Computer analysis, however, told a 
different story. In at least one of the 
photos, the spacecraft proved to be 
held aloft by a supporting wire or 
string. The sharpness of the image also 
suggested that the ship was close to 
the camera and no more than twenty 

mches wsde The Villa photos are typi- 
cal of those examined by Ground Sau- 
cer Watch. Of the more than 1 ,000 
supposed UFO photographs analyzed 
by the group's computers. 605 proved 
to be hoaxes, and most of the others 
seemed to be misinterpretat)ons of 
phenomena such as balloons. Only 
forty withstood the computer s scrutiny 
to remain, for the time being, bona 
tide unexplained objects, 

v Relatively convincing in 
its original stale, Paul 
Villa 's UFO photo (below) 
takes on another look 
when subjected to edge 
enhancement (lefty; The 
ship appears to be held 
up by wire stretched be- 
tween trees. 

tionally brilliant meteor had blazed over southern England. 

Others, conceding that perhaps a UFO did not land in 
the forest but unwilling to accept Ridpath's explanation, have 
suggested that the air force may have leaked accounts of a 
UFO to cover up the crash of an airplane carrying nuclear 
bombs. MUFON investigator Boeche wondered whether the 
incident was an accident involving some new kind of weap- 
on, or the recovery of some fallen space-probe debris. In any 
event, there is no official explanation to date. 

The Rendlesham Forest episode was followed by nu- 
merous other UFO events. A wave of sightings occurred in 
Pennsylvania in 1982. In 1983, thousands of people in New 
York's Westchester and Putnam counties reported a night- 
flying craft the size of a football field and the shape of a 
boomerang, with multiple running lights, flying overhead; 
traffic halted on the Taconic State Parkway as people goggled 
at the UFO. Police switchboards were jammed with calls. 

In general, the police tried to explain this sighting as a 
flight of ultralight aircraft (basically hang gliders with en- 
gines) or as military flights, which the military denied. Among 
the thousands of witnesses were scientists and engineers. 
Later, however, other similar sightings of a V-shaped flying 
object turned out to be the result of a hoax; some local private 
pilots admitted that they had set out to fly in formation at night 
to stimulate more UFO reports. 

Nor were UFO sightings restricted to the United States. 
In May 1 986, f or example, Brazil's air f orce minister went on 
television to explain that the country's defense system had 
gone on alert a few days earlier when twenty-one "uncor- 
rected targets" had shown up on radar. Jets went aloft and 
located and chased a number of mysterious objects with 
flashing lights, and in some instances were chased in turn. 
The pilots gave their own accounts in a televised press con- 
ference, and the air force minister summarized the incident: 
"The sky was entirely clear, and there were no aircraft in the 
sky when the lights were detected. Technically speaking, 
there is no explanation." 

UFOs continued through the 1 980s to surprise pilots and 
citizens, zooming overhead, evading jet pursuit. The Center 

for UFO Studies continued to receive between 800 and 1 ,200 
reports a year. But, to the dismay of many ufologists, a certain 
kind of close encounter was increasingly prevalent— and in- 
creasingly well publicized. 

In his 1 972 book, J. Allen Hynek had hinted that, deep down, 
he wished all encounters of the third kind would go away 
because their frequently lurid details strained the credulity of 
even committed believers in UFOs. But, almost reluctantly, he 
later came to admit that some such accounts were plausible 
and otherwise inexplicable. Pascagoula was such a case. 
There had been, in the Pascagoula incident, features similar 
to the Barney and Betty Hill abduction (pages 79-84). The 
victims claimed that they had been rendered powerless, tak- 
en aboard a strange craft, and subjected to physical exami- 
nation. In other incidents, like Travis Walton's in Arizona, 
people found that after seeing a UFO they were missing 
time— usually hours but sometimes days— out of their lives. 

n most instances the allegedly missing 
time seemed to be concealed behind a veil 
of apparent amnesia that could be pene- 
trated only by careful hypnosis. More often 
than not in these cases, people recalled 

having been taken into a large, brightly lit room, laid out on 
some sort of table, and examined carefully by short human- 
oids with large dark eyes. This examination was invariably a 
painful experience. Many of the subjects were subsequently 
found to exhibit the shame and guilt found among victims of 
rape; most would discuss their experiences only reluctantly. 
In this they are quite the opposite of the garrulous contactees, 
who seem to revel in publicity about their adventures. None- 
theless, abduction cases do embarrass many UFO research- 
ers, because such stories— even more than other UFO re- 
ports—are so frequently greeted by ridicule, precisely as 
the victims fear. 

The chief chronicler of abduction cases is a renowned 
New York artist named Budd Hopkins, who, believing he had 
sighted a UFO over Cape Cod in 1974, began looking into the 
Hill case anew. As a result of his research, he began to hear 


from many people who claimed similar experiences. He pub- 
lished a book in 1981 called Missing Time, in which he de- 
scribed a number of abduction experiences. Perhaps inspired 
by reading the travails of others, still more people came for- 
ward to tell similar stories. Among them was Kathie Davis (a 
pseudonym chosen by Hopkins to protect her privacy), a 
young woman from the state of Indiana. Her case became the 
subject of Hopkins's second book, titled Intruders, which sold 
briskly when it was published in 1987. 

athie Davis lived in an Indianapolis 
suburb called Copley Woods. In 1 983, 
^^^j^^* when the woman was 24, Copley 

Woods had evidently been visited by 
a UFO. Household electrical systems 
behaved strangely, and one morning the Davis family found 
a large, circular, scorched area in their backyard, a place 
where subsequently nothing would grow. It was then that 
Kathie began corresponding with Hopkins. In time, she told 
him of a dream she had had fiveyears earlier in which she was 
visited by two small "men" with "dingy white, almost gray" 
skin and eyes that were "pitch black in color, liquidlike." They 
gave her a dark box with a glistening red light on top and then 
departed, telling her they would return. 

Hopkins found Kathie's dream— and several other ele- 
ments of her family's experiences, including mysterious scars 
found on the legs of three of them— to be similar to experi- 
ences related by other abductees. During the next few years, 
with the aid of psychiatrists, psychologists, and hypnotists, he 
obtained complex and frightening stories from Kathie Davis, 
all of which fit the general pattern of abduction cases. 

It seems that early in her childhood, Kathie had first 
been visited by small alien creatures who examined her care- 
fully. During the most recent visit, which Kathie recalled had 
taken place on the night her backyard was scorched, they had 
thrust a needle into her ear until she felt great pain. Hopkins 
suggested they were implanting some tiny device by which 
the alien beings could track her. The scar on her leg and those 
found on other members of her family, Hopkins thought, were 
incisions made to take cell samples. Hopkins reported that 

these scars were often found on people claiming to have had 
such experiences, and added, "of the fifty-eight people I've 
worked with who have recalled nearly complete abduction 
experiences, eleven have reported the insertion of what seem 
to be tiny implants into their bodies." 

Kathie reported that she had become pregnant in her 
teens but in her first trimester had found that the pregnancy 
had ended without any sign. Her doctor was sure from early 
blood and urine tests that it was not a false pregnancy. Under 
hypnosis, Kathie related that the aliens had visited her and 
performed an uncomfortable gynecological procedure, after 
which she became pregnant. A few months later, they re- 
turned and removed the developing fetus, Kathie recalled, as 
she screamed at them not to take away her baby. 

Subsequently, Kathie married and gave birth without 
complications to two boys. Then, she said, the aliens returned 
and displayed to her a female creature that looked like a more 
human version of themselves. Later, they returned and thrust 
another tiny, wrinkled, gray-skinned infant at her. This ap- 
peared to be an especially "wise" baby, and she held him 
instinctively to her breast while the aliens observed her in- 
tently. To Hopkins, this suggested that the aliens were seek- 
ing to leam how humans nurture a child. 

From Kathie's reported experiences and many other 
people's tales of alien abduction accompanied by genital 
probing, Hopkins concluded that the aliens are researching 
certain bloodlines. Perhaps, he wrote, they are performing 
crossbreeding experiments, possibly to regain for themselves 
some lost genetic strength or variability. 

To be sure, Kathie's stories may resemble the ravings of 
the mentally disturbed. But Hopkins subjected Kathie and 
many other informants to a sophisticated series of psycho- 
logical tests. The results, he claimed, showed that none were 
paranoid, schizophrenic, or otherwise emotionally crippled. 
There was a pattern, however: All suffered from lack of self- 
esteem, and none seemed fully at ease with themselves phys- 
ically. Said one psychologist: "They're just more vigilant, 
more hesitant to trust, than the average person." 

Hopkins has set up networks for these people so that 


they can discuss their experiences with others who have had 
them and, in the manner of group therapy sessions for rape 
victims, come to grips with the emotional aftermath. One 
such person was a novelist, Whitley Strieber, whose claimed 
experiences paralleled the others' and were described in 
great detail in his best-selling book, Communion, published 
almost simultaneously with Hopkins's Intruders. 

Not surprisingly, the avid UFO debunker Philip Klass 
dismisses the abductees' tales as nonsense of the first order. 
"Why has not a single one of them," he asks, "ever reported 
the abduction to the FBI?" Where, he wants to know, is the 
hard evidence, the souvenirs? No alleged abductee, Klass has 
observed wryly, has ever returned from his or her travels 
bearing the alien equivalent of an ashtray or matchbook. 
Ufologist Bruce Maccabee is also concerned, worrying 
that the wave of abduction reports will bring "all sorts of 
nuts and kooks out of the woodwork." 

But if the stories of abductions are in factcoming from 
people who are not, as Hopkins has indicated, mentally dis- 
turbed, who generally have little to gain from telling of 
their experiences, and who are geographically separate, 
then the stories may not constitute a mere case of hys- 
terical contagion. And if, as UFO historian and abduction 
researcher David Jacobs has commented, it is some 
wholly new psychological phenomenon, then that in itself 
would seem to merit research and explanation. 

pie who simply plead for honest scientific study of what is 
quite obviously a real phenomenon of some kind. 

And whatever may lie behind it, public interest in UFOs 
remains inexhaustible. To the organization's dismay, the Na- 
tional Science Foundation learned in 1986 that 43 percent of 
American adults surveyed believed that "it is likely that some 
of the unidentified flying objects that have been reported are 
really space vehicles from other civilizations." 

Enthusiasts continue to embrace alleged evidence of 
earthly visitations by these vehicles. In mid- 1987, for exam- 
ple, there was a major stirring in ufology circles when a trio 
of investigators released copies of what they claimed was a 
top-secret document relating to the classic Roswell, 
New Mexico, incident of 1947. The document, 

When the U.S. government formally withdrew from the 
investigation of UFO sightings in 1969, declaring them 
unworthy of serious consideration, many people hoped 
that the controversy over such events would fade 
awal Instead, it has grown and taken unexpected 
twists and turns. There are^lill vex iterous believers 
aruliionbetlevers alike, a^well as a handful of peo- 



& ■ 

Author of Missing 
Time and Intruders, 
Budd Hopkins is 
also an award- 
winning painter and 
sculptor. He has in- 
vestigated UFOs 
since 1975, special- 
izing in alleged ab- 
ductions of humans. 



A purported UFO landing site in Kathie Davis's 
backyard forms a persistent scorched pattern: bare of 
grass in summer (top) and snow in winter 
(center), and devoid of vegetation and 
insects a full two years later. 

which had arrived on microfilm in a 
plain brown wrapper at the Los 
Angeles home of one of the re- 
searchers, seemed to be a briefing 
paper prepared in November 1952 
for President-elect Dwight D. Eisen- 
hower. It states that spacecraft 
wreckage and small humanoid bod- 
ies were recovered and studied after 
the crash of a UFO near Roswell. 
Supposedly, a team of federal sci- 
entists had determined that the 
dead creatures were biologically 
dissimilar to human beings; inves- 
tigators had been unable to deter- 
mine the power source used by the 
unidentified object or to decipher 
examples of writing that was re- 
trieved from the debris. 

Most observers, including 
many who devoutly hope that tan- 
gible, irrefutable evidence for UFOs 
will someday appear, describe the 
Roswell briefing paper as a probable 
hoax. Even so, it is likely to remain 
the centerpiece of a hot debate. 
Among some ufologists, for exam- 
ple, news of the document revived a 
mild paranoia about the govern- 
ment's role in the UFO phenome- 
non. Such diehards are likely to con- 
tinue their insistence that the 
government surely has collected 
crashed UFOs at one time or anoth- 

er, and even the bodies of aliens. But 
others, among them UFO historian David Jacobs, point out 
that if any branch of the government had indeed collected 
physical evidence of UFOs— a piece of a craft or the craft itself 
or its inhabitants— there would be no way that the secret 

could be confined to the enormous 
number of scientists who would 
have to be involved in studying the 
material over the decades. 

The pressures to dismiss UFO 
reports— competition for research 
funds, concern for individual repu- 
tations, unremitting derision by the 
debunkers— continue to prevail. 
They are fostered to an extent by 
scientific "realism," but they may be 
spawned, too, by what J. Allen Hy- 
nek called a "certain smugness," a 
universal tendency toward "a com- 
placent unawareness of the scope 
of things not yet known." 

One of the most objective 
thinkers ever to get embroiled in the 
UFO controversy, Hynek voiced a 
plea throughout most of four de- 
cades, until his death in 1986, that 
seems likely to remain unanswered 
for years to come. He urged that 
researchers accept the UFO phe- 
nomenon as worthy of study, avoid 
getting tangled in unverifiable pre- 
conceptions about what UFOs are, 
study the data as thoroughly as pos- 
sible, and above all remain aware of 
their own ignorance. 

Whatever accounts for this 
long-lived, irrepressible phenome- 
non, Hynek wrote, will be "as in- 
credible to us as television would 
have been to Plato." Summing up, 
he came to a tantalizing conclusion. The explanation for 
UFOs, when it is at length discovered, "will prove to be not 
merely the next small step in the march of science but a 
mighty and totally unexpected quantum jump." 

A Mum of Possibilities 

two we have neighbors in the ens 
mos? Or is their existence no more than a mirror of our fantasies? 
Perhaps in the infancy of our species we are like children in the dark 
We peer into the blackness, fearing it yet seeking within it some- 
reassurance that we are not alone. We cling to the notion that some- 
where in the void arc beings not unlike us, but maybe wiser, better- 
creatures who can tell us secrets that will save us from ourselves We 
need to believe- 
Some scientists argue that we are alone, that human intelli- 
gence is the product of a process so subtle and intricate that it could 
not be replicated elsewhere. Others say the universe must abound 
with intelligent forms of life. Earth is but a speck in a stellar vast n ess 
so great our minds cannot begin to encompass it; to think ourselves 
unique is absurd, a cosmic egocentricity. 

But if our neighbors do exist, how could we hope ever to meet 
them 7 Who are they, where are they, and how could they possibly 
traverse the interstellar immensities to make themselves known? At 
the leading edge of today's mathematics and physics are theories 
that of fer not answers but intriguing riddles for new imaginings. For 
believers, rightly or wrongly, the theories are things to conjure with 



• • - " 


i% black hole is a gravitational 
Held so dense it swallows light 
itself Where black holes are, 
the very fabric of space-time is 
warped In such a place, do the 
known laws of physics still 
govern? Some astronomers 
ihink not. Some even theorize 
thai black holes might be por- 
tals to other universes or other 
dimensions- passageways 
where Ihe familiar rules of time 
and space, cause and effect, 
have no purview. The believer 
wonders Could beings enter 
and survive to find themselves 
instantly in some other place, 
some other time? Are black 
holes shortcuts through the 
universe, detours where there 
is no celestial speed limit 7 

Suppose our cosmic neighbors 
need not get here. Suppose 
they already arc here. 

Mathematicians seeking 
equations to encompass all 
cosmic mass propose a theory 
of whimsical elegance: What if 
a shadow universe parallels our 
own? It is omnipresent but in- 
visible; light passes through it. 
It shares with our universe only 
gravity. Its veiled and whirling 
spheres might attract the solid 
orbs of our cosmos into inex- 
plicable orbits and, in turn, 
make their own phantom revo- 
lutions in our heavens. Could 
intelligent beings actually exist 
in this shadow realm, beings 
who see us as the shadows? 
Could they have found a way to 
penetrate the dimensional 
threshhold between us? 

Jome scientists suggest that 
our universe is of no more con- 
sequence than a single atom in 
a solar system. Innumerable 
universes might exist, and con- 
ceivably, each could have its 
own intelligent life, multiplying 
prodigiously the chances that 
we are not alone. Conceivably, 
too, each could have its own 
template of reality. Consider, 
for instance, the possibility of a 
universe with only two dimen- 
sions, or twenty; or a cosmos 
in which past, present, and fu- 
ture all exist at once, and 
where travel between worlds is 
instantaneous. Such are the 
speculations on the frontiers of 
science. And -who knows? - 
there may be truths far stranger 
than anything a human mathe- 
matician or astrophysicist has 
yet come to dream 


The index was prepared by Lynne R. Hobbs. The 
editors wish to express their appreciation to the fol- 
lowing individuals and organizations: 

Walter Andrus, International Director of the Mu- 
tual UFO Network, Seguin, Tex.; Anny Baguhn, 
Hamburg, West Germany; Tom Benson, Trenton, 
N.J.; Countess Maria Fede Caproni, Museo Aeronau- 
tico Caproni di Taliedo, Rome, Italy; Mario Cingo- 

lani, President, Centro Ufologico Nazionale, Flor- 
ence, Italy; Jerome Clark, Editor, Fate magazine. 
Highland Park, 111.; Hilary Evans, London; Prof. B. 
Roy Frieden, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.; 
Barry Greenwood, Stoneham, Mass.; Budd Hopkins, 
Wellfleet, Mass.; James Karales, New York; Greg 
Long, Kennewick, Wash.; Ho Brand von Ludwiger, 
Feldkirchen, West Germany; Hiroshi Motoyama, In- 

stitute for Religious Psychology, Tokyo, Japan; Ro- 
berto Pinotti, Secretary, Centro Ufologico Nazio- 
nale, Florence, Italy; YamagataShimbun, Yamagata, 
Japan; William Spaulding, Phoenix, Ariz.; Ronald 
Story, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Erling Strand, Project 
Hessdalen, Eidsvoll, Norway; RolfStreichardt, Insti- 
tut fur Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohy- 
giene, Freiburg, West Germany. 


The sources for the pictures in this book are listed 
below. Credits for pictures shown from left to right are 
separated by semicolons; credits from top to bottom 
are separated by dashes. 

Cover. Art by Lloyd K. Townsend. 6, 7: Art by Gi- 
raffics, Inc. 9. William Warren/Backgrounds from 
Woodfin Camp & Associates, UFO art by Alfred T. 
Kamajian. 10, II: Art by Alfred T. Kamajian. 13: 
Catalog No. 148148, Department of Anthropology, 
Smithsonian Institution; BPCC/ Aldus Archive, Lon- 
don—Department of Archeology, Faculty of Arts 
and Letters, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan. 14: 
Mary Evans Picture Library, London. 15: Courtesy 
Josef Blumrich. 17: Painting by Ghirlandaio, Loeser 
Collection, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, photo cour- 
tesy Scala, Florence — MomCilo Djordjevic, 
Belgrade/DeCani Monastery, Yugoslavia; 
Jean-Pierre Muzard/Collegiale Notre Dame, 
Beaune, France. 18: "Vadersolstavlan" by Urban 
Malare, photo by Francis Bruun. courtesy Stock- 
holms Stadsmuseum. 19: American Numismatic 
Association Photographic Services. 20: Betty and 
Dennis Milon; Herman Hoerlin courtesy Sunsets, 
Twilights and Evening Skies, Aden and Marjorie Mei- 
nel, Cambridge University Press, 1983- Dick Ruhl/ 
APRO-June M. Gilby. 21: B. T. Matthias and S. J. 
Buchsbaum-AT&T Bell Laboratories; Jerome Wyck- 
off (2). 22: Courtesy Tom Benson; courtesy Walter 
Andrus, Mutual UFO Network. 23: Courtesy Tom 
Benson; Mary Evans Picture Library, London. 24: 
Fotokhronika TASS, Moscow. 26: Fortean Picture 

Library, Wales. 27: Erik Reutersward, Uppsala, Swe- 
den. 29: c by Universal Pictures Division of Universal 
City Studios, courtesy MCA Publishing Rights, a Di- 
vision of MCA, Inc. 30, 3 1 : c by Universal Pictures 
Division of Universal City Studios, courtesy MCA 
Publishing Rights, a Division of MCA, Inc.; Warof the 
Worlds e 1953 by Paramount Pictures Corporation, 
all rights reserved, photo courtesy the Kobal Col- 
lection Ltd., New York. 32, 33: e 1977 by Columbia 
Pictures Industries, Inc.; c 1977 by Columbia Pic- 
tures Industries, Inc. 34, 35: c by Universal Pictures 
Division of Universal City Studios, courtesy MCA 
Publishing Rights, a Division of MCA, Inc., photo 
courtesy the Kobal Collection Ltd.. London. 37: 
Craig Amess/Backgrounds from Woodfin Camp & 
Associates, UFO art by Alfred T. Kamajian. 39: Re- 
printed by permission of Fate magazine, photo cour- 
tesy Mary Evans Picture Library, London; Fortean 
Picture Library, Wales. 40: UPl/Bettmann News- 
photos. 42, 43: UPl/Bettmann Newsphotos— Asso- 
ciated Press/Wide World Photos; Associated Press, 
courtesy Martin Luther King Memorial Library, 
Washington, D C. 45: Associated Press, courtesy the 
Washington Star Collection, Martin Luther King Me- 
morial Library, Washington, D.C. 47: Fortean Pic- 
ture Library, Wales. 48: Juan Guzman, Mexico/ 
Time. 50, 51: National Archives Record Group 34 1, 
Project Blue Book Case No. 978, except bottom 
right: James F. Coyne/Time. 52: Wilhelm Reich Mu- 
seum. 53: Leni Iselin/Nancy Palmer Agency, cour- 
tesy Encyclopaedia Bntannica. 54 National Ar- 
chives Record Group 34 1 , Project Blue Book Case 

No. 3088. 55: Albert Fenn for Life. 56: Reprinted from 
Popular Science with permission, c 1952 Times Mir- 
ror Magazines, Inc., photo courtesy Library of Con- 
gress. 57: Art by Wendy Popp, detail from pages 
60-61 . 58-63. Art by Wendy Popp. 65: c Steve Vidler/ 
Afterimage 1987, UFO art by Alfred T. Kamajian. 67: 
From UFOs: A Pictorial History from Antiquity to the 
Present, by David C. Knight, McGraw-Hill Book 
Company, 1979. New York. 68. Mary Evans Picture 
Library, London, except left: Leonard Stringfield, 
courtesy Mutual UFO Network. 69. Fortean Picture 
Library, Wales; Mary Evans Picture Library, London; 
Fortean Picture Library, Wales -drawing by Gene 
Duplantier and Jennings H. Frederick, from Cray 
Barker's Newsletter. 7 1 : c 1 939 Loew's Incorporated, 
copyright renewed 1965 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 
Inc., photo courtesy the Kobal Collection Ltd., Lon- 
don. 72. UFOIN-Rome, Ohio. 73. Reprinted from the 
Saturday Evening Post, c 1956 by Curtis Publishing 
Co., photo courtesy Library of Congress. 74, 75: c 
GAF International, Vista, California, photos courte- 
sy Mary Evans Picture Library, London, except bot- 
tom left- Fortean Picture Library, Wales. 77: Art by 
Bryan Leister. 78. Unarius Education Foundation 
79. Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America/ 
Gabriel Green. 80, 81: Colin Maher, London. 82: 
UPl/Bettmann Newsphotos. 83: Drawing by David 
C. Baker from Visitorsfrom Outer Space by Roy Stem- 
man, c 1976 by Aldus Books Limited, London. 84, 
85: Fortean Picture Library, Wales. 87. National Ar- 
chives Record Group 34 1 , Project Blue Book Case 
No. 1501, detail from photo page 97. 88. National 


Archives Record Group 34 1 , Project Blue Book Case 
No. 9654. 89: National Archives Record Group 341, 
Project Blue Book Case No. 8398. 90: National Ar- 
chives Record Group 341, Project Blue Book Case 
No. 9318. 91: National Archives Record Group, 
Project Blue Book Case No. 7027. 92: National Ar- 
chives Record Group 34 1 , Project Blue Book Case 
No. 631 1 . 93: National Archives Record Group 341 , 
Project Blue Book Case No. 9816. 94: National Ar- 
chives Record Group 34 1 , Project Blue Book Case 
No. 10913. 95: National Archives Record Group 341, 
Project Blue Book Case No. 1 1 263. 96: National Ar- 
chives Record Group 34 1 , Project Blue Book Case 
No. 7824. 97: National Archives Record Group 341, 
Project Blue Book Case No. 1501. 99: Jack Elness/ 
Comstock, Inc., UFO art by Alfred T. Kamajian. 100, 
101: ArtbyJackPardue. 102, 103: James H. Karales. 
105: Courtesy Philip J. Klass. 106, 107: From Flying 

Saucers, a Look Special, by the editors of Cowles and 
UPI, « 1 967, headline « 1 966 by the New York Times 
Company, reprinted by permission. 108: UPI/Bett- 
mann Newsphotos. 110, 111: Courtesy N1CAP/ 
CUFOS (National Investigations Committeeon Aeri- 
al Phenomena/Center for UFO Studies), except 
bottom drawings: Fortean Picture Library, Wales 
(2). 1 12, 1 13: UPI/Bettmann Newsphotos. 1 14, 1 15: 
UPI, courtesy Washington Star Collection, Martin Lu- 
ther King Memorial Library, Washington D.C., ex- 
cept sketch by Deputy Spaur, from The UFO Inves- 
tigator, Vol. 3, No. 7, March/April 1966, photo 
courtesy Library of Congress. 1 1 6: Carl Iwasaki/ 
Time. 117: OUPHANT, by Pat Oliphant, c 1967 by 
Universal Press Syndicate, reprinted with permis- 
sion, all rights reserved. 118: Stan Wayman for Life. 
119: Courtesy Don Berliner. 121: Richard Laird/FPG, 
UFO art by Alfred T. Kamajian. 122: UPI/Bettmann 

Newsphotos. 123: Rob Stapleton/Peop7e. 125: Bob 
Skinner/Fortean Picture Library, Wales— courtesy J. 
Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies and Tom Ben- 
son (2)— Shinichiro Namiki, Tokyo. 126: NASApho- 
to. 127: Arecibo Observatory, a part of the National 
Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Cornell Univer- 
sity/National Science Foundation. 128: UPI/Bett- 
mann Newsphotos. 130: NASA photo. 131: West- 
lands pic, Yeovil, Somerset. 133: Project Hessdalen/ 
Mary Evans Picture Library, London. 134: Leif 
Havik/Project Hessdalen. 135: Greg Long— Harley 
Rutledge. 137: Eduard (Billy) Meier-Eduard (Billy) 
Meier, c Genesis 111 Publishing, Inc. 138, 139: GSW, 
Inc., Phoenix, Arizona. 1 40: GSW, Inc., Phoenix, Ar- 
izona—Paul Villa, courtesy GSW, Inc., Phoenix, Ar- 
izona. 143: Jack Vartoogian/Peop7e. 144: Courtesy 
Budd Hopkins. 1 45: Art by Giraffics, Inc., detail from 
pages 148-149. 146-151: Art by Giraffics, Inc. 


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Numerals in italics indicate an illus- 
tration of the subject mentioned 


Abduction by aliens, 57, 58-63, 79- 

86, 129, 141-143, 144 
Adamski, George, and encounters 

with aliens, 74, 76 
Aerial Phenomena Research Orga- 

nization (APRO), and investiga- 
tions of UFOs, 53, 69 

Aerospace Defense Command, and 
investigation of UFOs, 1 1 9 

Aetherius Society, and cosmic bat- 
teries, 78, 80-81 

Agobard (Archbishop of Lyons; 
quoted), and UFO sightings, 14-15 

Air Materiel Command (Wright 

Field, Ohio), and investigations of 
UFOs, 38. See also Project Sign 
Airships: in fiction, 19; sightings of, 

Akers, David, and Yakima Indian 
Reservation UFO window site, 

Aldrin, Edwin (Buzz), and first 
moon landing, 120 

Aliens: ancient-astronaut theory, 
13; and the Bible, 12 14, 15, 17; 
encounters with, 64-86, 68, 69, 
72; faked accounts of, 16; in leg- 
end, 12-18, 73, 14; motivation of, 
28, 29-35 

Alpert, Shell, and alleged UFO pho- 
tograph, 97 

Alvarez, Jose, and Levelland UFO 


sighting, 68 
Alvarez, Luis, and Robertson report, 

Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs 
of America, Inc., and Gabriel 
Green, 79 

American Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science (UFOs— 
Scientific Debate), and UFO sym- 
posium, 122 

Ancient-astronaut theory, 13 

Andreasson, Betty, and abduction 
by aliens, 62, 84-86 

Andrews Air Force Base (Maryland), 
and UFO sightings, 53, 55 

Ann Arbor (Michigan), and UFO 
sightings, 106-110 

Antimatter, 24 

APRO. See Aerial Phenomena Re- 
search Organization 

Arecibo (Puerto Rico), and radio 
telescope, 124, 127. See also 
Search for extraterrestrial intelli- 

Armstrong, Neil, and first moon 

landing, 120 
Arnold, Kenneth, and Cascade 

Mountains UFO sighting, 36-37, 

38, 39, 56, 69, 74, 131 
Aura Rhanes (alleged alien), and 

Truman Bethurum, 76, 78 
Aurora borealis, mistaken for UFOs, 


Avis family, and abduction by 
aliens, 84 


Baker, Russell (quoted), and UFO 
possibilities, 109 

Ballen, Lloyd, and Levelland UFO 
sighting, 69 

Ball lightning, as possible explana- 
tion for UFOs, 26-27, 69, 104, 

Barnes, Harry G. (quoted), and 
Washington, DC, UFO sighting, 
53, 55 

Bamett, Grady Landon (Barney), 

and Roswell UFO crash, 74-75 
Bentwaters Royal Air Force Base 

(England), and Rendlesham Forest 

UFO sighting, 132, 136-141 
Berlitz, Charles, and Roswell UFO 

crash, 74-75 
Bertrand, Eugene, and Exeter UFO 

sighting, 99-/02, 104 
Bethurum, Truman (Aboard a Flying 

Saucer), and encounters with 

aliens, 76, 78 
Bible: and' alleged alien visitations, 

15, 1 7; alleged UFO sightings in, 


Black holes, 24, 146-147 

Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (The Se- 
cret Doctrine), and alien visitors, 

Blumrich, Josef F. (The SpacesNps of 
Ezekiel; quoted), and alleged bibli- 
cal UFO sightings, 14, 15 

Boeche, Raymond, and investiga- 
tion of Rendlesham Forest UFO 
sighting, 136, 141 

Book of Dyzan, and alien visitors, 

Brazel, Mac, and Roswell UFO 
sighting, 39 

Brown, Harold (quoted), and inves- 
tigations of UFOs, 110-111 

Brown, T. Townsend, and National 
Investigations Committee on Aeri- 
al Phenomena, 69 

Byland Abbey (Yorkshire, England), 
and alien visitors, 1 6 

Caldwell, Jonathan E, and pseudo 

UFOs, 45 
Carter, Jimmy, and UFO sighting, 


Cascade Mountains (Washington), 
and UFO sighting, 36-37. See also 
Arnold, Kenneth 

Cash, Betty, and UFO sighting, 8-9, 

Cash-Landrum incident, 8-9, 10-11, 

Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), 

Chavez, M. S., and Socorro encoun- 
ter with aliens, 73 

Chiles, C. S., and Montgomery UFO 
sighting, 42 

Christian Science Monitor (newspa- 
per; quoted), and UFO possibili- 
ties, 109 

Civilian Saucer Investigation (CS1), 
and investigations of UFOs, 69 

Clarion (alleged planet), and Tru- 
man Bethurum, 76, 78 

Clark, Jerome, and investigations of 
UFOs, 23 

Clem, Weir, and Levelland UFO 
sighting, 68-69 

Close encounters: three kinds of, 
121-122; third-kind encounters 
with aliens, 65, 68-69, 70-73 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind 
(film), and alien visitors, 28, 

Clouds, mistaken for UFOs, 20 
Comets, mistaken for UFOs, 20 
Condon committee: and Edward U. 
Condon, 1 1 5-116; and Condon 
report, 116, 117, 118-119. 120, 
121, 126, 138; formation of, 1 15- 
1 16; and McMinnville UFO sight- 
ing, 48 

Coyne, Lawrence J., and encounter 
with UFO, 126-127 

CS1. See Civilian Saucer Investiga- 

CUFOS. See Center for UFO Studies 

Davis, Kathie, and visitation and 
probing by aliens, 142, 144 

Desert Center (California), and en- 
counters with aliens, 76, 78 

Downing, Barry H., and alleged bib- 
lical UFO sightings, 12, 14 

Drake, Frank, and search for extra- 
terrestrial intelligence, 124 

Drona Pan/a (quoted), and UFO 
sighting, 12 


Edwards, Frank, and National In- 
vestigations Committee on Aerial 
Phenomena, 69 

E.T. (film), and alien visitors, 34-35 

Exeter (New Hampshire), and UFO 
sighting, 99-106, 100-101 

Exon, J. James, and investigation of 
Rendlesham Forest UFO sighting, 

Ezekiel's wheel, and alleged biblical 
UFO sightings, \2-14, 15 


Fahmey, Delmer S., and National 
Investigations Committee on Aeri- 
al Phenomena, 69 

Fargo (North Dakota), and UFO 
sighting, 44 

Fate (magazine), and Kenneth Ar- 
nold's UFO sighting, 39 

Fawcett, Lawrence, and investiga- 
tions of UFOs, 128-129 

Fireballs, 46; mistaken for UFOs, 26 

Fish, Marjorie, and Hill abduction 
story, 84 

Fontes, Olavo T., and Villas Boas 
abduction story, 85 

Foo fighters. See Fireballs 

Forbes Air Force Base (Kansas), and 
UFO sighting, 66 

Ford, Gerald (quoted), and UFO pos- 
sibilities, 109, 1 10 

Fortenberry, William, and Norfolk 
UFO sighting, 52 

Fort Knox (Kentucky), and UFO 
sighting, 4 1 

Fowler, A. J., and Levelland UFO 
sighting, 68 

Fowler, Raymond E, and Exeter 
UFO sighting, 103 

Fry, Daniel W., and encounter with 
aliens, 73 

Fuller, John (Incident at Exeter), and 
Exeter UFO sighting, 102-104 

Fund for UFO Research, 131 

Futch, Max, and Project Blue Book, 



Gander (Newfoundland), and UFO 
sighting, 48-49 

Geophysical theory of UFOs, 134 

Ghost rockets, 27 

Giant Rock Space Conventions, 78 

Gill, Reverend William Booth (quot- 
ed), and encounter with aliens, 

Godman Air Force Base (Kentucky), 
and UFO sighting, 4 1 

Goldwater, Barry, and National In- 
vestigations Committee on Aerial 
Phenomena, 69 

Gorman, George, and Fargo UFO 
sighting, 44 

Goudsmit, Samuel, and Robertson 
report, 55-56 

Gray, Glen, and encounter with 
aliens, 129 

Gray Goose Corporation, and pseu- 
do UFOs, 45 

Green, Gabriel, and encounters with 
aliens, 79 

Greenwood, Barry, and investiga- 
tions of UFOs, 128-129 

Ground lights, mistaken for UFOs, 

Ground Saucer Watch Inc.: and 
Trent UFO photographs, 138-139; 
and Villa UFO photographs, 140 


Hale, Virginia, and UFO sighting, 

Hall, Robert L., and hysterical con- 
tagion theory, 1 23 

Halley, Edmond (quoted), and UFO 
sighting, 15 

Halt, Charles 1. (quoted), and Rend- 
lesham Forest UFO sighting, 132, 

Hamilton, Alexander (quoted), and 
UFO sighting, 23 

Harder, James A. (quoted), and in- 
vestigation of UFOs, 117-118 

Hart, Carl, Jr., and Lubbock UFO 
sighting, 50-51 

Haught, Warren (quoted), and Ros- 
well UFO sighting, 39 

Heflin, Rex, and alleged UFO photo- 
graph, 55 

Hessdalen Valley (Norway), and 
UFO window site investigation, 

Hickson, Charles E. ( and abduction 

by aliens, 60, 62 
Hill, Bamey and Betty (quoted), and 

abduction by aliens, 55-59, 60, 62, 

79, 52-84 
Hillenkoetter, R. H., and National 

Investigations Committee on Aeri- 
al Phenomena, 69 
Hillsdale College (Michigan), and 

UFO sightings, 106-107 
Holloman Air Force Base (New 

Mexico), and fireball sightings, 


Hollow earth theory of UFOs, 131 
Hopkins, Budd (Intruders, Missing 
Time), and investigations of ab- 
duction by aliens, 141-143 
Hopkins, Herbert, and alien visitor, 

Hopkinsville (Kentucky), and alien 
visitors, 64-65 

Hunt, David, and Exeter UFO sight- 
ing, 102, 104 

Huston, Wayne, and Ravenna UFO 
sighting, 111, 1 13 

Hynek, J. Allen (The UFO 
Experience), 121, 126, 141; (quot- 
ed) and Ann Arbor UFO investiga- 
tion, 107-109, 108; categories of 
UFOs, 121-122; (quoted) and con- 
gressional symposium, 117; and 
Papua (New Guinea) UFO investi- 
gation, 72; and Project Grudge, 
49; and Project Sign, 41-42; and 
Ravenna UFO investigation, 115; 
(quoted) research recommenda- 
tions of, 144; (quoted) and So- 
corro encounter with aliens, 73; 
strangeness-probability chart, 
122; and swamp gas phenome- 
non, 108-109; and Yakima Indian 

Reservation UFO window site, 

Hyperspace theory of UFOs, 131 
Hysterical contagion theory, 123 


Ice crystals, mistaken for UFOs, 18, 

21, 26-27 
lntegratron, and George Van Tassel, 


It Came From Outer Space (film), 
and alien visitors, 28, 29, 30 


Jacobs, David (quoted), 9; and in- 
vestigation of abduction by aliens, 
1 43; and investigation of UFOs, 

Jaroslaw, Dan and Grant, and faked 
UFO photograph, 95 

Joint Army-Navy-Air Force Publica- 
tion (JANAP), and UFO secrecy, 70 

Journal of Natural History and Philos- 
ophy and Chemistry, and report of 
UFO sighting, 1 6 

Jung, Carl, and UFO mandala theo- 
ry, 53 


Kelly-Hopkinsville event, and en- 
counter with aliens, 64-65, 68 

Keyhoe, Donald E. (Flying Saucers 
from Outer Space), 56; (quoted) 
and Condon committee, 1 1 6; 
(quoted) and National Investiga- 
tions Committee on Aerial Phe- 
nomena, 69, 70; and investiga- 
tions of UFOs, 46, 47 

Kilbum, Steven, abduction by 
aliens, 58, 60-61 

King, George, and Aetherius Soci- 
ety, 78-79 

Klass, Philip J., 127, 143; debunking 
UFOs at Exeter, 104-106, 105 


Landrum, Vickie, and UFO sighting, 
8-9, 10-11 

Levelland (Texas), and UFO sight- 
ing, 67-69 

Lewis, Danny, and Loring UFO 
sighting, 127-129 

Life (magazine; quoted), and UFO 
possibilities, 51, 1 09 

Lightning, mistaken for UFOs, 20, 

Look (magazine): and Donald E. 
Keyhoe's UFO investigations, 56; 
and Donald H. Menzel's UFO the- 
ories, 51 

Lorenzen, Coral and Jim, and Aerial 
Phenomena Research Organiza- 
tion, 53 

Loring Air Force Base (Maine), and 

UFO sighting, 127-129 
Low, Robert (quoted), and Condon 

committee, 1 1 6 
Lubbock (Texas), and UFO sighting, 

49-50, 51 
Lusk, Charles, and 1 896 airship 

sighting, 18 


Maccabee, Bruce (quoted): investi- 
gation of abduction by aliens, 
143; investigation of UFOs, 130- 

McCulloch, Pat, and Levelland UFO 
sighting, 68-69 

McDonald, James E. (quoted), inves- 
tigation of UFOs, 1 15-117 

McLaughlin, Robert B., and White 
Sands UFO sighting, 46-47 

McMinnville (Oregon), and UFO 
sighting, 47-48, 138 

Malmstrom Air Force Base (Mon- 
tana), and UFO sighting, 129- 

Mandala theory, 53 

Mannor, Frank, and Ann Arbor UFO 

sighting, 106, 109 
Mantell, Thomas, and UFO chase, 


Meier, Eduard, and UFO photo- 
graphs, 137 
Men inBlack(MlB), 77 


Menzel, Donald H. (Flying Saucers; 
quoted), 56; and alleged biblical 
UFO sightings, 14; debunking 
UFOs, 118, 122, 123, 131; and 
Lubbock UFO sighting, 50-51; and 
Norfolk UFO sighting, 52-53; and 
temperature inversion, 53, 55 

M1B. See Men in Black 

Military aircraft, mistaken for UFOs, 

Milne, Robert Duncan, airship sto- 
ries of, 19 
Mirage, mistaken for UFOs, 14 
Moi, Stephen, and encounter with 

aliens, 70 
Montgomery (Alabama), and UFO 

sighting, 42 
Moore, William, and Roswell UFO 

crash, 74-75 
MUFON. See Mutual UFO Network 
Mulholland, John (illusionist), 56 
Multiple universe theory, 150-151 
Muscarello, Norman J., and Exeter 

UFO sighting, 99-102, 103 
Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and 
investigation of Rendlesham For- 
est UFO sighting, 136, 141 


Nash, William B., and Norfolk UFO 
sighting, 52, 53 

National Academy of Sciences, and 
Condon report, 1 18 

National Investigations Committee 
on Aerial Phenomena (N1CAP): 
and Condon committee, 1 16; and 
Exeter UFO sighting, 103, 105 

Natural phenomena, mistaken for 
UFOs, 18,20,21. See also individ- 
ual phenomena 

Naval Aviation News (magazine), 
and UFO sightings, 48-49 

Nebel, Long John, and alien space- 
craft, 74 

NefT, Wilbur L. (quoted), and Ra- 
venna UFO sighting, 111-115 

N1CAP. See National Investigations 
Committee on Aerial Phenomena 

Nicolai, Renato, and UFO sighting in 
France, 121-122 

Norfolk (Virginia), and UFO sight- 
ing, 52 

Norman, Ruth (pseud. Uriel), and 
Unarius Foundation, 78, 79 


Oliphant, Pat (cartoon by), and Con- 
don report, 117 
Orgone, 52 

Orthon (alleged alien), and George 
Adamski, 76 

Oz factor, and feeling of displace- 
ment, 71 


Page, Thornton, and American As- 
sociation for the Advancement of 
Science symposium, 122 

Panzenella, Frank, and Ravenna 
UFO sighting, 113 

Papua (New Guinea), and UFO 
sighting, 70, 72-73 

Parallel universe theory, 148-149 

Parhelion, mistaken for UFOs, 14 

Pascagoula (Mississippi), and alien 
visitors, 69, 141 

Pease Air Force Base (New Hamp- 
shire), and Exeter UFO sighting, 

Persinger, Michael A., and geophys- 
ical theory of UFOs, 134 

Phoenix (Arizona), and UFO sight- 
ing, 40-41 

Piedmont (Missouri), and UFO win- 
dow site investigation, 134, 135 

Piezoelectricity, 134 

Pioneer 10, 126; message to alien 
civilizations, 124 

Pioneer 1 1, message to alien civili- 
zations, 124 

Planets, mistaken for UFOs, 20 

Plasmas, 104-105 

Poe, Edgar Allan, and transatlantic 
balloon flight, story of, 22-23 

Professor Tulli, and alien visitors in 
Egypt, 16 

Project Blue Book, 87, 88-97, 98, 
1 10, 1 1 1 , 1 15, 1 18, 120; activation 
of, 49; and Ann Arbor UFO sight- 
ing, 107; disbanding of, 1 19; and 
Lubbock UFO sighting, 51; and 
Norfolk UFO sighting, 52; and Ra- 
venna UFO sighting, 113-115 

Project Cyclops, and search for ex- 
traterrestrial intelligence, 126 

Project Grudge, 44, 47, 87; disband- 
ing of, 46; reactivation of, 49 

Project Hessdalen, and Hessdalen 
Valley (Norway) UFO window site 
investigation, 133-134 

Project Identification, and Piedmont 
UFO window site investigation, 
134, 735 

Project Sign, 38, 87; disbanding of, 
44; and Fargo UFO sighting, 44; 
and Fort Knox UFO sighting, 4 1 ; 
and Montgomery UFO sighting, 
42; and Phoenix UFO investiga- 
tion, 4 1 

Project Skyhook, 41; and White 

Sands UFO sighting, 47 
Project Twinkle, and fireballs, 46 


Quazgaa (alleged alien), and Betty 

Andreasson, 86 
Quintanilla, Hector, Jr., and Project 

Blue Book, 110, 111, 114 


Radar, use in UFO investigations, 54 
Radio transmissions, and search for 

extraterrestrial intelligence, 124, 


Ramey, Roger, and Roswell UFO 

sighting, 39 
Randies, Jenny (quoted): and Oz 

factor, 7 1 ; and radar evidence of 

UFOs, 54 

Ravenna (Ohio), and UFO sightings, 

Reich, Wilhelm, and orgone, 52 
Reidel, Walter, and UFO possibili- 
ties, 52 

Rendlesham Forest (England), and 

UFO sighting, 132-141 
Rhodes, William A., and Phoenix 

UFO sighting, 40-41 
Ridpath, Ian, and investigation of 

Rendlesham Forest UFO sighting, 

136, 141 

Rivers, L. Mendel (quoted), and UFO 

investigations, 1 09, 110 
Robertson report (quoted), and H. P. 

Robertson, 55-56 
Rosenberg, Samuel, and legends of 

alien visitors, 16 
Roswell (New Mexico): briefing pa- 
per on UFOs, 144; and UFO crash, 

74-75; and UFO sighting, 38-40 
Royal Australian Air Force (quoted), 

and Papua (New Guinea) UFO 

sighting, 72 
Ruppelt, Edward J.: and Project Blue 

Book, 49, 51, 52, 87; and Project 

Grudge, 49 
Rutledge, Harley D., and Project 

Identification, 134, 135 

Sagan, Carl: and American Associa- 
tion for the Advancement of Sci- 
ence symposium, 122-123; and 
congressional symposium, 1 1 7; 
and message to alien civili- 
zations, with Linda Sagan, 124; 
and Sagan's paradox, 123 

Saint Elmo's fire, mistaken for 
UFOs, 69 

Samford, John A., and Washington, 
D.C., UFO sightings, 55 

Saunders, David R. (UFOs? YES 1 . 
Where the Condon Committee 
Went Wrong), and the Condon re- 
port, 119 

Search for extraterrestrial intelli- 
gence (SET1), 124-126, 727 

Senareus, Philip, airship stories of, 

SET1. See Search for extraterrestrial 

Shalett, Sydney (quoted), and de- 


bunking of UFOs, 44 

Simon, Benjamin, and Hill abduc- 
tion story, 82-84 

Socorro (New Mexico), and encoun- 
ter with aliens, 73 

Space People (alleged alien group), 
and George Van Tassel, 78 

Spaulding, William H., and Ground 
Saucer Watch Inc., computerized 
analysis of UFO photographs by, 

Spaur, Dale (sketch by), 115; and 
UFO sighting, 111, 113-115 

Spook bombs, 27 

Stanton, William (quoted), and in- 
vestigations of UFOs, 1 1 4 

Stars, mistaken for UFOs, 20 

Static electricity, mistaken for UFOs, 

Stephens, David (quoted), and en- 
counter with aliens, 129 

Strangeness-probability chart, and J. 
Allen Hy nek's UFO investigations, 

Strieber, Whitley (Communion), and 
abduction by aliens, 62, 143 

Sullivan, Walter (quoted), and Con- 
don report, 1 1 8 

Sutton, Lucky, and encounter with 
aliens, 64-65 

Swamp gas phenomenon, mistaken 
for UFOs, 108-109 


Taylor, Billy Ray, and encounter 
with aliens, 64-65 

Temperature inversion, possible ex- 
planation for UFOs, 53, 55 

Terauchi, Kenju, and Japan Air 
Lines UFO sighting, 123 

Thirteenth Annual Spacecraft Con- 
vention, 112 

Tillighast, Wallace E., flying 
machine of, 25 

Toland, Reginald (quoted), and 
Exeter UFO sighting, 99, 1 02 

Trent, Mr. and Mrs. Paul, and UFO 
sighting, 47-48, 138-139 

True (magazine), and Donald E. 
Keyhoe's UFO investigations, 46 

Tunguska explosion, 23-25, 24 


UFO sightings: categories of, 121- 
122; landing sites, 125; pseudo 
UFOs, 16, 42, 45, 89, 95, 97, 118, 
130, 131 

Ultralight aircraft, mistaken for 
UFOs, 141 

Unarius Foundation, 78-79 

Undersea civilization theory of 
UFOs, 131 

Uriel. See Norman, Ruth 

U.S. Air Force, and investigations of 
UFOs, 38, 87, 55-97; Regulation 

200-2, and UFO secrecy, 70. See 
also Project Blue Book; Project 
Grudge; Project Sign 


Vallee, Jacques, and investigation of 

UFOs, 131-132 
Vandenberg, Hoyt S., and 

Montgomery UFO sighting, 42 
Van Tassel, George, and lntegra- 

tron, 78 

Veme, Jules (Robur the Conqueror), 
airship stories of, 1 9 

Villa, Paul, and alleged UFO photo- 
graphs, 89, 140 

Villas Boas, Antonio, abduction by 
aliens, 84, 85, 86 

von Daniken, Erich (Chariots of the 
Gods 7 ): and ancient-astronaut 
theory, 13; and Ezekiel's wheel, 


Walton, Travis, and abduction by 
aliens, 129, 141 

War of the Worlds (film), and alien 
visitors, 28, 30-31 

Washington, D.C., and UFO sight- 
ings, 53, 55 

Westover Air Force Base (Massa- 
chusetts), and Exeter UFO sight- 
ing, 104 

Wheeler, Jim, and Levelland UFO 
sighting, 68 

White Sands (New Mexico), and 
UFO sighting, 47 

Whitted, J. B., and Montgomery UFO 
sighting, 42 

Wilson, Jesse, and alleged UFO pho- 
tograph, 92 

Window sites, 133-135 

Wizard ofOz (film), and feeling of 
displacement, 71 

Woodbridge Royal Air Force Base 
(England), and Rendlesham Forest 
UFO sighting, 132-141 

Wright, Newell (quoted), and Level- 
land UFO sighting, 68 

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base 
(Ohio), and Project Blue Book, 98 

Wurtsmith Air Force Base (Michi- 
gan), and UFO sighting, 129 


Yakima Indian Reservation (Wash- 
ington), and UFO window site in- 
vestigation, 133-134, 135 


Zamora, Lonnie (quoted), and Soc- 

corro UFO sighting, 73 
Zeppelin, mistaken for UFO, 25 
Zeta Reticuli star system, and Hill 

abduction story, 84 

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Includes index. 
1 . Unidentified flying objects. 
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